Exam time at Shishur Sevay

Growing up in the United States, I do not recall tension over exams in primary or middle school.  But here in Kolkata, the examination is the single marker of success or failure.  In the US, we had papers, class participation, extra-credit, homework evaluation, projects, all of which became factors in final marks.  But here we live from exam to exam.  I'm not sure if I wrote of the year we had Chicken Pox during exam time.  We were told to bring the three affected girls wrapped in sheets, covering their full bodies.  They sat in the office with other sick children and took the exams.  There are no "make up" exams.  If you are sick one day you could be held back for the year. 

Our system here, in the Bengali Medium schools, is broken into primary (K-IV), secondary (V-X) and higher secondary (XI-XII).  Six of our girls will complete Class IV this year.  We are preparing them for entrance exams to some higher-ranked Bengali Medium Schools.  It is an incredible achievement of theirs to even be able to meet the basic qualifications and sit for these exams.  They are psyched.  Their first exams are end of November, which is also when their final school exams begin.  When teachers aren't here, they study in groups and on their own.




The ubiquitous scratching of the head, looking for answers.

For the first entrance exam, points will be distributed as 100 for Bengali, 100 for Math, 50 for English.  What they are to expect:

English: word meaning, spelling, make sentences, jumbled words and sentences, fill in the blanks, translation, parts of speech, articles, prepositions, paragraphs, and reading comprehension.

Bengali: spelling, fill in the blanks, opposite words, similar words with different meanings, convert sentence into one word, reading comprehension, gender, numbers, synonym, breaking words into syllables, paragraphs, parts of speech, make sentences.

Math (Bengali): written words and numbers, ascending and descending order, prime factor, common multiples, lowest common factor, highest common factor, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, decimals, fractions, averages, weights, money, time, simplification, geometry.

We had a visitor earlier in the week who was concerned that the girls did not have enough "play" time, so here is a picture of them playing before class this morning.  The teacher arrived as I was taking this picture, so upstairs to the classroom they went… without protest, and even if there had been protest, they still would have had to go.


We play lots of mind games, the girls and I.  One day a while ago they complained that there was too much work, that all they did was study.  Usually this happens when teachers sympathize with them, sometimes around their being "poor orphans."  By the way that's a term we all joke about…  Well anyway, I said to them, "It's not my fault you are here.  The government could have sent you anywhere, but they sent you to an education home!"  The girls are smart.  They got it.

We are on holiday.  School is closed for another two weeks.  Friday is a Puja.  The girls decided to celebrate the Puja in the morning and to study all afternoon.  I'm proud of them.






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October 2010
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