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CBSE’s date sheet draws edu minister’s criticism for classifying Punjabi as ‘minor’ subject

CBSE school principals said a 'non-issue' is being given a political colour, as according to them, the CBSE hasn't made any changes in the teaching policy of any subject.

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana |
Updated: October 22, 2021 9:55:31 am
tbse exam dates, madhyamik exam date 2022,board examsThe term-1 exam schedule for the Madhyamik (Secondary Exams) or class 10 and Higher Secondary (HS) or class 12 exams has also been released at tbse.tripura.gov.in. File.

The classification of term-1 examination schedule (date sheet) for classes 10 and 12 by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) into ‘major’ and ‘minor’ subjects has taken a political turn in Punjab.

As per the exam schedule available on CBSE’s website, for Class 10, the ‘major subjects’ include social science, science, mathematics, Hindi, computer application, and English. Other regional languages, such as Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Marathi, Sanskrit, as well as foreign languages, such as French, German, Tibetan, Arabian, Persian, and other optional subjects such as food production, retailing, music, healthcare, agriculture, have been classified as ‘minor subjects’.

On October 14 this year the CBSE had issued a circular saying that Class 10 and 12 exams will now be conducted in two parts — term 1 (Nov-Dec), and term 2 (March-April). The board had further said, “CBSE is offering 114 subjects in Class 12 and 75 subjects in Class 10. Meaning that the CBSE has to conduct examinations for 189 subjects in total. If examinations of all subjects are conducted, then the entire duration of exams will be 40-45 days minimum. Therefore, to avoid learning loss of students, the board decided that subjects will be divided into two parts- major and minor. As major subjects are offered by all affiliated schools, hence, exams of these subjects will be conducted by fixing a date sheet as done earlier. Regarding minor subjects, the CBSE will make groups of schools offering these subjects and thus more than one paper would be conducted by the CBSE in the schools on a day.

The board clarified that the decision to take exams in two parts was taken due to Covid-19.

Punjab education minister, Pargat Singh, has called the date sheet a ‘conspiracy to wean away children from their mother tongue’. However, the Central Board has clarified that the division of exam schedule into ‘major’ and ‘minor’ subjects is ‘purely administrative’ and is done on the basis of the number of candidates who will appear for an exam. The board has further clarified that not just Punjabi, but other subjects and regional languages in which a lesser number of candidates will appear for the exam, have been classified as ‘minor’ subjects and it has nothing to do with the ‘importance of the subject as minor or major’.

According to CBSE school principals, a ‘non-issue’ is being given a political colour, as according to them, the CBSE hasn’t made any changes in the teaching policy of any subject but only the exam schedule has been released in two categories so that logistics for conducting the exam can be arranged accordingly by the schools. They too agreed with the board’s view that minor subjects will see fewer candidates appearing for the exams compared to the major one, which are mostly common for all the schools and states.

What the CBSE’s official curriculum scheme says

As per the board’s ‘scheme of studies’ for secondary education (Class 9 and 10) for 2021-22, there are five compulsory subjects — two languages, mathematics, science and social science. One compulsory language has to be either English or Hindi. The second compulsory language can be chosen from the list of 40 languages given by the board, including regional languages such as Punjabi. Students can also opt for a third language and appear for an additional exam.

“Either Hindi or English must be one of the two languages to be studied in Class 9 and 10. Hindi and English can also be offered simultaneously. Students going for the sixth skill subject can also opt for an additional language III,” says the board’s scheme.

Similarly, for Class 11 and 12, the CBSE says that Hindi or English must be one of the two languages to be studied. The second language and an additional language can be chosen from the list offered by the board (which also includes Punjabi).

Punjabi teaching compulsory from Class 1 to 10 as per state law

As per the Punjab Learning of Punjabi and Other Languages Act, 2008, which came into force on October 10, 2008, “Punjabi shall be taught as a compulsory subject in all schools from First Class to Tenth Class from the academic year 2009-10. No board or institution shall award matriculation certificate to any student unless he/she has passed the Class 10 examination in Punjabi subject.”

The Act also makes Hindi a compulsory subject in Punjab from Class 3 to 8 and adds that “There shall be no bar on teaching English in any school.”

Empowering officers of the education department (district education officers or above rank) to take action against erring schools, the Act says that schools can be penalized Rs 25,000 at first offence, and Rs 50,000 if it is repeated. Thereafter, for a third offence, the penalty can be Rs 1 lakh.

“If any school continues to make contravention of the provisions of this Act and the rules made thereunder beyond a period of one year, the state government may direct the board or institution, as the case may be, to disaffiliate the school to which such a school is affiliated,” it says further.

“Non-issue being given political colour”

Principals of CBSE schools said that a ‘non-issue’ was being given a political colour as it was the duty of the state education department to check that the state Act, which makes it compulsory for Punjabi to be taught from Class 1 to 10, was followed across all schools, not of the board.

“The CBSE scheme is very clear for classes 9 to 12. It does not give preference to any language. Students have to study either English or Hindi as one language in Class 10 and the second one can be chosen from the list, which also includes Punjabi. There is also a provision of giving an exam for a third language in case a student wants to study three languages. The classification of regional languages in ‘minor subjects’ in exam schedule nowhere means that Punjabi is being given less importance or being considered unimportant academically. Not just Punjabi, other languages such as Urdu, Sanskrit, Gujarati, Telugu have also been classified as ‘minor subjects’ because it is obvious that fewer students will sit for an exam in these subjects and schools can make arrangements accordingly. It is however the duty of the state education department officials to ensure that the Punjab Act makes Punjabi teaching compulsory in all schools and students opt for Punjabi as a second language in classes 10 and 12,” said a principal, requesting anonymity.

Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu, principal DAV Public School, BRS Nagar, Ludhiana, said that in their school, it was compulsory for Class 10 students to opt for Punjabi for CBSE boards. “Since the state law makes it compulsory for students to study Punjabi till Class 10, it is mandatory for our students to choose Punjabi in Class 10 as a second language other than English. They can opt for Hindi as a third language as an additional subject, but Punjabi is compulsory. However, for out of Punjab students who were not born or brought up here and do not know the language, it is not compulsory.”

“State education officials keep conducting surprise checks to check that Punjabi is being taught to all classes or not, but they do so as per their own convenience instead of being consistent. That is why some schools are still not teaching Punjabi as a compulsory subject because of the lackadaisical attitude of the state education department staff at lower levels. CBSE gives the option to choose whichever language a student wants, it depends on school authorities in Punjab to ensure that their students opt for Punjabi,” said another principal.

CBSE’s clarification

Rama Sharma, CBSE spokesperson, told The Indian Express that the board has clarified that in no way, the classification of subjects for exam schedule indicate their academic importance and it was purely an ‘administrative’ move. “Not just Punjabi but all other regional languages have also been put under ‘minor subjects’ list. The classification of subjects has been done purely on administrative grounds for the purpose of conducting Term – I Examinations. This has been done on the basis of the number of candidates appearing in a subject and in no way reflects the importance of subjects as major or minor. Every subject is equally important from an academic point of view. Punjabi is one of the regional languages being offered. All the regional languages have been put under the minor category for the purpose of administrative convenience in relation to the logistics required for conducting examinations,” she said.

E.DOT

Punjab Education Minister, Pargat Singh, on the other hand said that the exclusion of Punjabi from ‘main subjects’ by CBSE was a ‘conspiracy to wean away students from their mother tongue’.

Notably, there is no change in curriculum or weightage of marks of any subject or language. All languages including Hindi, English, and other regional languages carry equal weightage.

Earlier, the final theory exam was of 80 marks and internal assessment for 20, totaling 100. Now, it has been divided into two terms: 40 marks theory paper (term 1 and term 2 each) and 10 marks internal assessment (in each term), totaling 100.

CBSE says the move is aimed at reducing the burden for students due to Covid.

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