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THE DECISION to bring back the board exams for Class X students of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has received mixed response from principals and educationists in the city. For some principals, it was a welcome move as they said the return of board exams would encourage students to take academics seriously. “With the no-detention policy and the optional board exams, students have started to take studies casually Class VI onwards. Their performance and their learning is hampered,” said Kalpana Dwivedi, principal of St Joseph School, Panvel.
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She said that the exams would particularly help the average and below-average performers. “Some students will continue to take studies seriously but the ones who don’t perform well will have to buck up,” said Dwivedi.
On Tuesday, CBSE’s governing body “unanimously approved” a proposal to make the board exams for Class X compulsory from 2018 after a hiatus of almost six years (The board was made optional in 2011. Students could opt for an internal exam over the board.)
The move was aimed at easing the pressure on students to perform well in academics. Some principals said that this purpose would be defeated if the board exams were made compulsory again.
“The earlier system was more holistic as students who were not too good at studies could perform in extra-curricular activities,” said Nikita Bajaj, a senior teacher of RN Podar School Santacruz.
The move would be to the advantage of some students, said Bajaj. “The existing education system in the country is very mark-oriented. The optional board exams decision was a progressive move,” said Bajaj.
The other boards were supposed to follow suit but now the CBSE, too, might repeal the decision forcing students into the competitive and mark-oriented system, said Bajaj. Avnita Bir, principal of the school, was of a similar opinion.
“All-round development does take a hit. Just before the board exams, students refrain from participating in other activities altogether,” said Bir, adding that even if students get marks, they may not be getting a holistic education.
“The optional system was a good move as it ensured continuous and comprehensive evaluation, not just of academics. But it all depends on how it was implemented in schools,” said Bir, adding that the CBSE’s decision could have come about after complaints from parents that the schools were not teaching enough.
On the other hand, educationist Heramb Kulkarni was of the opinion that making the board exam optional or compulsory was not a solution to reducing stress among students. “It is important to bring about changes in the system so that students enjoy the classes. We have to strike a balance between no exams and difficult exams,” said Kulkarni.