Exams should be banned in summer

April 07, 2018

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Illustration by Muhammad Faizan
Illustration by Muhammad Faizan

Heat brings out the worst in all of us, and it is so unfortunate that most students, especially in countries such as ours, are required to study and give their final exams during the peak summer months, which is April to June. Those who had their annual examination in March are lucky for they can now take things easy as the weather gets hotter.

With climate change bringing in unprecedented heat spells more frequently, we need to rethink our examination system and the educational system as a whole. Expecting children to be at their peak performance level in sweltering May and June months is unrealistic and ridiculous. And when you combine the heat with power outages and poor classroom conditions in most schools all over the country, there is no denying that students have to put up the worst environment in the whole year to study long hours and give exams that determine the course their life.

the educational system as a whole. Expecting children to be at their peak performance level in sweltering May and June months is unrealistic and ridiculous. And when you combine the heat with power outages and poor classroom conditions in most schools all over the country, there is no denying that students have to put up the worst environment in the whole year to study long hours and give exams that determine the course of their life.

It is time to rethink this mid-summer annual examination system to bring it either up or down in the year, to give children a better atmosphere to prepare for and go through this grind. And this needs to be done at all levels — school, board, college and university examinations.

Schools can easily shift their examination schedules to finish by or before April, or move it down the calendar year to December. Many schools conduct examinations in March and more schools should follow this schedule to make life a little less stressful for all concerned – students, teachers and parents. And this will also impact the overall performance of students because it is beyond doubt that high summer temperatures affect the behaviour, performance and productivity of both adults and children.

Likewise, the government and the various boards of examination can also look into this issue and instead of taking Matriculation and Intermediate exams in April to June, they should make sure that they start in March and wrap it all up by end of April. There is no reason why this cannot be implemented if a genuine concern for what is best for the students is there. All it needs is a little restructuring of schedules and working accordingly since the beginning of the academic session to make sure that examinations can be held a little early.

Illustration by Muhammad Faizam
Illustration by Muhammad Faizam

The only students who will be left to sweat will be the O and A Level ones as their examinations are according to the Cambridge schedule which is followed in many countries. And not many other international students of O and A Level of them face this kind of heat so they don’t feel the pain that children here do.

Most places in the country become very hot in summer, and a great majority lives in smaller towns and villages where residential and educational infrastructures do not offer a cool indoor environment. While air-conditioned homes are a luxury that a small minority affords, air-conditioned classrooms and examination halls are probably offered by just a handful or fewer institutions. And with the chronic power shortage that intensifies during summer, there is no respite from the heat.

This brings us to another important problem of our educational system that is known to everyone, but no effort is made to address it. The buildings, of both the private and government educational institutes, are very ill-suited to the requirements of the hot weather conditions in the country and the large number of students enrolled in each class.

Most private schools are established in houses constructed for residential purpose but modified to accommodate as many classrooms and students are possible. Cramped together, the students study in overheated rooms with little ventilation and only a fan or two to justify the hefty fees the schools charge. Government schools, though generally offering larger premises, have more rundown buildings with broken and insufficient furniture.

Proper and comfortable conditions at schools will at least make children put up with our hot weather a little better and be more productive. And this is the most do-able aspect of the whole discussion, provided there is a genuine desire to see children learn and perform better.

Published in Dawn, Young World, April 7th, 2018