Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid-19: CBSE school heads mull over future plans as virus disrupts exam schedule

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on April 14, 2021

Pupils urged to stay calm and focused.

Principals in the UAE have urged pupils to stay calm after a breakthrough decision was taken by India’s Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on Wednesday.

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The CBSE authorities announced that Grade X and Grade XII board examinations have been cancelled and postponed, respectively.

The decision was taken after a high-level meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal and CBSE board officials.

India has been reporting an unprecedented surge of fresh Covid-19 cases, which are over 175 per cent more, as compared to last year.

CBSE’s board examinations were slated to start from May 4.

Do pupils have a redressal mechanism?

The results of Grade X will be prepared on the basis of an objective criterion to be developed by the CBSE authorities. In case, any candidate is not satisfied with the marks allocated, the pupil will be given an opportunity to sit in an examination as and when the conditions are conducive to hold the test.

The CBSE authorities issued a statement on the latest developments.

“The Board Examinations for Grade XII, which was to be held from May 4 to June 14, have been postponed,” the CBSE stated.

The CBSE authorities will review the prevailing situation on June 1, and details will be shared at an appropriate time.

Board candidates will get a 15-day window before the examinations begin.

The worsening of the Covid-19 situation in India has led to the shutting down of schools in at least 11 states. CBSE has a pan-India presence, which makes holding the examination a major challenge for the Board authorities.

UAE-based principals hail the move

Annie Mathew, principal of Gulf Model School, said, Considering the situation in India, it is a wise decision taken by the Board to cancel and postpone Grade X and XII examinations, respectively. The move would impact CBSE schools in this part of the world in many ways. Plans are afoot to start Grade XI classes immediately.

“Pupils need to stay focused as the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us to be resilient and adaptable,” she added.

How will the assessments be done now?

Arogya Reddy, Principal, Ambassador School Sharjah said, “The Board has not disclosed the promotion criterion yet. However, it appears that the results will be declared based on internal assessments, and marks in pre-board examinations. Most of the CBSE schools in the UAE conduct at least two preliminary exams, if not more. Besides, the Board’s ‘Art Integration Projects’, which has different components will be looked into. An average of all things combined will be considered for the final evaluation.”

Mohammad Ali Kottakkulam, Principal, Gulf Indian High School Dubai, said, “The information is a source of great relief for the pupils and families in India.”

He added, “However, the Indian expatriate pupils and families, who were preparing to move back to India on completion of their Board examinations, could find it difficult to extend their stay further due to visa rules. The postponement of Grade XII examinations will impact NEET and JEE entrances as well. More clarity is needed on the criteria for Grade XI admission for CBSE students, who seek to switch to other Boards that have already conducted their examinations.”

Bittersweet decision

Principals reiterated that pupils and teachers have worked hard, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. The call to postpone the high stakes Grade XII CBSE examinations, and the ambiguity around it, is unsettling for candidates.

Nargish Khambatta, Principal of GEMS Modern Academy, said, "The cancellation of the CBSE Grade X examinations has had a bittersweet impact, with some feeling relieved and others disappointed. The focus will now shift to the result declaration as the objective criterion is still under construction."

Dr Brian Gray, Principal, Springdales School, Dubai, said, “This decision does have an additional academic, administrative and operational impact. The teachers already have a commitment in their timetable with existing pupils and subjects. To provide continued support will mean additional contact time.”

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