Recently, there was a strange drama in the parliament. Due to some confusion, some Rajya Sabha MPs thought that JEE was conducted only in English. The Minister HRD added fuel to the fire by responding to the question in English, and maintaining that the decision on the language is best left to IIT Council, an autonomous body. Finally, the Rajya Sabha had to be adjourned for 15 minutes, to bring the situation under control.
Of course, JEE question papers are available in Hindi too. So the whole discussion was unnecessary. But just imagine the uproar that will happen if IITs were to decide that they will introduce a language test in JEE. The language test could be in multiple languages - it is only to test linguistic abilities of the candidate. But there will always be criticism that English test is simpler than non-English tests. And, therefore, forget about testing language in JEE.
A few years ago, I met a German student who was carrying out research on the success of Indian IT sector. He told me that he is shocked by whatever he had learnt about the Indian higher education system. One point that he made was that India was a unique country in the world (well, amongst the 50 largest countries anyway) in that it did not consider language skills for the purpose of admission to professional courses. There is a huge amount of research which shows that the language skills are the best predictor of being a successful professional, and that is why the entire world considers these skills as amongst the most important parameter for both under-graduate as well as post-graduate admissions. But India did not do it. (And as I said above, language skills are not synonymous with English skills. It should be possible to design a language test in multiple languages.)
Today, I met a professor of another institute, who has been doing a lot of traveling to various institutes in India, and he told me that he found BITS Pilani students to be amongst the best, and we started discussing this. We felt that the reason for this (perception?, how does one really check this?) could be that BITS Pilani is the only institute in India amongst the top rated institutes which considers language skills as important, and includes them in its admission test. (And also a section on logical reasoning.) It also happens to be the institute with perhaps the highest cutoff for the 12th class marks. (It requires 80 percent in aggregate of Physics, Chemistry and Maths.) And of course, there is a lot of research which shows that the performance in school has a better correlation with the performance in college compared to the correlation between entrance exam with performance in college.
As a result of different admission processes, while a lot of good students in schools (including those who are really good at at least one language) do manage to get through JEE and join IITs, but a lot of students who manage to get admission to IITs do not have good performance in school or do not have good language skills.
Is there a way to influence stake holders to include an exam component in JEE on a language (of the choice of the candidate), and also increase the cutoff marks in 12th from 60% to at least 65%.
What's the buzz?
4 days ago