"Optional," I believe, is the keyword.
Students who wish to apply for Class XI in a school different from where they complete Class X can take the board examination. But those who are to stay on in the same school need not take the examination, under the plan Sibal articulated.
There may be other deeper issues that I'm unaware of, but here is my first reaction.
Right now, all bets are off as far as admissions to Class XI are concerned -- at any school. Unless the government makes it mandatory for schools to announce which of their students will be guaranteed admission to Class XI (and group of subjects allotted to them) well ahead of time, I can't see how this initiative will ever become viable.
Class X performs two useful functions:
- For a vast majority of our kids, formal education stops at Class X or before; for them, the Class X exam -- a "public exam" taken by hundreds of thousands of fellow-students -- provides a certain sense of satisfaction and closure. And a Certificate issued by a State or Central authority! I don't have to emphasize how valuable all these are.
- It forms a fork in one's educational journey: continue on for Classes XI and XII (and the subject group that one chooses to study), go into a craft (through Industrial Training Institutes, for example), or just stop.
Thus, Sibal's plan, even if it becomes a reality, is likely to benefit only a small number of students who get guaranteed seats in Class XI in their current schools. The alleged benefit of removal of exam-related stress is thus available, ironically, only to those who really thrive in the current system of 'stressful exams'.