UAE: School principals urge CBSE to hold board exams

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on April 17, 2021
KT file photo used for illustrative purpose

Robust vaccination drive, stringent protocols make UAE a safe place for exams to be held physically, school heads say.

As vaccination is open to students above 16 in the UAE, board exams can be easily held here, Indian school principals reiterated.

India’s Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) last week postponed class XII exams for both boards.

Heads of Indian schools in the UAE are urging CBSE to conduct exams here, claiming that the Gulf countries and especially the UAE, has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic quite well.

Arogya Reddy, Principal, Ambassador School Sharjah said, “Many Principals in the Gulf are urging the CBSE Board to at least conduct exams in this region, as the situation here is much better as compared to what it is in India. Principals are pushing for class XII exams to be held if not class X. But this is subject to approvals from the top (ministerial) levels in India.

Mohammad Ali Kottakkulam, Principal, Gulf Indian High School Dubai says, “Strict adherence to stringent protocols here make this country a safer environment for students to write the exams physically. As vaccination is now open in UAE to students who are 16 plus years, getting vaccinated before the Board exams will not be a major concern here. Schools, parents and students in the Gulf are sincerely waiting for grade 12 exams to be held, if not grade 10. This is because 99.99 per cent students move within the Indian school- systems after their 10th and due to the national level decisions, there will be acceptable protocols fixed for their admissions in grade 11.”

He adds, “But the scenario is different for grade 12 students because after 12th, they move to universities inside or outside India and they need authentic documentation for getting admissions to good universities. The percentage of Indian students opting for foreign universities for their UG courses is high in the Gulf compared to their Indian counterparts. We are sure that CBSE authorities are fully aware of this requirement and will address it positively.”

CBSE has altogether cancelled Grade X examinations, while the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) has given an option to students to not appear for exams when it takes place. In that case, a ‘fair’ and ‘unbiased’ criterion will be developed for evaluation for the remaining students.

Speaking on the cancellation, Reddy said: “Many representations that have come to the board from parents of Class X students especially in India and even elsewhere, opposing the ‘objective criterion’ that is being developed for their assessments.”

He adds, “That’s because parents claim often children do not take their pre-boards as seriously as their board exams, some feel the board is more lenient in assessing its students as compared to schools who are strict in awarding marks in pre-boards. Besides, schools in the UAE have been very serious about the distance learning programme with the help from the respective GCC ministers and education bodies. Unfortunately, the situation in India has been different. In certain Indian states children returned to online learning only by November 2020, so they missed out on adequate number of classes and proper internal assessments as well.”

School heads say at the end of the day, all stakeholders are ensuring that students’ health is taken care of as a priority and at the same time their academic interests are not harmed.

Sheela Menon, Principal at Ambassador School (CISCE school), Dubai, says, “The wellbeing of the students has to be the most important thing for everyone. The board has stated that class XII exams have been postponed and they will inform us of a future date – in the first week of June. For Class X students ICSE has given two options. Students have the option of taking the exams later when the situation improves and when the board allows it or students can be assessed on the basis of their pre-boards and internal exams. However, it is a tough decision for 15-year-olds to make. Second, schools will have to chalk out a plan for grade 11 classes as there is still lack of clarity as to how many students will take the exams and how many would want to be assessed on the basis of pre-boards and other internal assessments. We are getting in touch with our parents community for the same.”

She adds, “Students in the UAE are definitely in a better position to sit for face-to-face exams. In fact we earlier conducted practical exams with staggered timings and it worked quite successfully for us. The same way, the theory exams can also be held. But the situation in India is very different. Therefore, under the current circumstances, students need to keep their faith going as decisions have been taken keeping their best interests in mind.”

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

Therefore, schools’ heads explain deferring the exams is perhaps in the best interest of all, especially the ones located in India.

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