CBSE two-exam move: Mixed reactions from UAE students, educators

Dubai - Students worried that studying for two term exams will be stressful.


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Tue 6 Jul 2021, 4:33 PM

While educationists in the UAE are appreciative of the Central Board of Secondary Education’s (CBSE) special assessment scheme, students say it could lead to added stress of studying for two board exams in a year.

Bifurcating the academic session, holding two term-end exams and rationalising the syllabus are part of the scheme for CBSE Grade 10 and 12 board examinations in 2021-22.

On Monday, the board announced that term one exams will be conducted in November-December, 2021, while second term exams will be held in March-April, 2022.

Sanjeev K Jolly, Chairman of Gulf Sahodaya (CBSE Schools in the Gulf) and executive principal of GEMS Our Own High School — Al Warqa, Dubai, said:

“The CBSE’s new approach and its acceptance of the need to teach and assess in various ways, and to include multiple formative assessments in the overall evaluation of a child, is very much the need of the hour. The CBSE is undertaking the rationalisation of the syllabus once again, looking at the time available for schools, and trying to attend to the fact that in some parts of the world schools are still not accessible to students in the ways they were before the pandemic. The challenge for CBSE is that the availability of online resources varies between schools and different locations, which is why a one-size-fits-all solution remains difficult in terms of assessments, evaluation, teaching and learning.”

Head teachers feel that since Covid is here to stay, the CBSE needs to remain ahead of the game. “Looking at the challenges, the CBSE is working to share with schools in the next month or two the exact syllabus term-wise, so that children can study, appear for their assessment and move ahead in the next term with the new syllabus. So, the way forward seems to be via term/semester syllabuses rather than year syllabuses, providing various options for teaching and learning, assessing students with projects, portfolios, practicals, listening and speaking assessments,” said Jolly.

There are plans to make internal assessments and project work more ‘credible’ and ‘valid’.

Deepika Thapar Singh, CEO-Principal, Credence High School, points out, “The entire 2020-21 academic session functioned in virtual mode and results for Grade X and XII have been prepared on an alternative assessment policy. Keeping the same in mind, rationalisation of the syllabus was the need of the hour as there are concerns mainly in India regarding the availability of gadgets, connectivity issues and more. This division of syllabus will be done by taking the help of subject experts and the interconnectivity of concepts and topics will be kept in mind so that the continuity of learning remains.”

Experts also highlight the changes are for the benefit of students, as the pressures of learning for a full year and then being assessed at the end of it, are now being removed.

Annie, Mathew, Principal of Gulf Model School, says: “This will entail a lot of changes in many aspects of schooling. The syllabus for each term has to be decided by the board, as the question papers will be sent by CBSE and the topics covered need to be uniform. The board has sent a circular regarding this detailing the time period, duration and types of assessment for this academic year. It’s good that the syllabus is divided and the topics they need to prepare at a time is considerably reduced. Besides, the time duration for the exams is reduced too.”

Students' reactions

Meanwhile, students have shown a mixed response stating this decision will have both a positive and negative impacts.

Class XII student of Delhi Private School (DPS) Dubai, Aoishi Chakravarti says, “The CBSE has come up with a new assessment plan for students in light of the pandemic. This is an important initiative proposed to extinguish the chaos created in case of Board exams not happening if the situation does not improve. Hopefully, these set of rules will help students overcome the dilemma of being left in the dark for 2022 exams, along with giving clear-cut results without wasting time.”

But some students feel two board exams will mean more stress.

Mrunmayee Vicahre, board student for 2021-2022 academic year, says: “I believe sitting for two high-stake exams can be stressful for students. While it’s a good decision taken by the board, I feel the MCQs can be tricky which is likely to be the case for the November-December exam. If one MCQ goes wrong, we stand to lose one mark which is a lot. Therefore, I prefer subjective type assessment patterns.”

Class X student, Alok Pandey says, “I am happy on one hand as the evaluation process seems fair, especially given the pandemic situation. But at the same time I am not very comfortable with the idea of sitting for two board exams. This means added pressure and tension for students as well as their parents.”

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