For the CBSE class VIII-X students who had appeared for the Aryabhatta Ganit Challenge, the exam came as a pleasant surprise. To begin with, there was not much requirement for prior preparation. Secondly, it was not a part of the school curriculum. But then, that was the whole point of the exercise.
“The Challenge helped identify the mathematical skills of the students without any set curriculum or advance preparation which made the exam stress-free. The students were tested on their knowledge of basic math concepts, logical ability and basic understanding and application of Math in daily life,” says Rahul Sofat, CBSE Teachers Award winner in Mathematics (2019-20) and lecturer, Air Force Golden Jubilee Institute, Subroto Park, New Delhi.
With India slated to participate in PISA 2021, the Ganit Challenge, says Sofat, has been introduced at the right time, to hone students’ acumen in the subject. The challenge was meant to be a joyful assessment process as per the CBSE circular while stressing on the need for “students to be able to reflect upon mathematical solutions, results or conclusions and interpret them in the context of the real-life problems”.
“The initiative is a good start to sensitise the students and the teachers towards the concept of ‘learning by doing’ which should be a continuous process. Often, students without understanding the basic mathematical concepts, mug up the sums. Such exams will help develop a natural affinity towards Math and take the fear out of learning,” Sofat adds.
“Post the challenge, the Board will be able to streamline the Math syllabus at different levels through feedback from the exams and set question papers accordingly,” says Shriram Tanwar, Math teacher at DAV School in Faridabad. He also feels the NCERT Math books should take a cue from the challenge and have more questions based on day to day life to increase students’ Math proficiency and engage their interest. Tanwar however says that a single uniform test like the challenge may not be the best way to test students’ Math aptitude. “Every exam should be level-specific for a fair assessment of students’ skills and talent.”