Even as the Maharashtra State Council of Education Research and Training (MSCERT) has declared April 5 and 6 as the final dates for conducting the second summative assessment tests uniformly across the state, the decision has come under severe criticism from school principals. The government plans to check the basic learning competency of students through these tests since a No Exam policy is in place till Class VIII but schools say that lack of clarity on syllabus, clashing of dates with school final exams, among other issues, make for a recipe of failure. Govind Nandede, director, MSCERT said that schools must co-operate and not make an issue. “Schools don’t have to do any work; we have prepared the question papers, given the dates and will distribute the papers for free,” he said.
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“In 2,000 schools, an external agency appointed by the state government will conduct the test while the rest of the schools have to conduct the tests on their own. There is no reason to panic,” said Nandede. However, schools aren’t happy with the decision and say it lacks planning again. “My objection is that the dates announced are clashing with the final exam in April which commences from April 4 to 12. April 12 is last day for school which we have already announced and naturally parents must have already planned their holidays, some do booking months in advance. How can education officers announce tests at last minute? Supposing I want to advance school exams also, can I tell parents at last minute without creating panic? Besides they haven’t even told us what would be syllabus of the exam, every school has a different syllabus pattern for second semester and they should tell us the plan in detail,” said Nandkumar Kakirde, director and honorary secretary of Bal Shikshan Bhavan. Another school principal requesting anonymity said that it is difficult to even prepone school exams since the last week of March has several bank holidays. “Currently SSC exams are going on and teachers are all busy with it. It gets over by end of March and to conduct school exams, lots of planning is required. How can we reschedule our exams?” she said.
Rajendra Singh, president of Federation of Private Unaided Schools, Association of Maharashtra, said they would be handing over a letter to the state education department asking for a change in date and consultation with schools before announcing such programmes. “Had they kept students at the center of their thought, they would have considered if students have holiday or tests. They could have done the same without disturbing academic planning,” he said.
Meanwhile, when asked about the dates clashing with school exams, Nandede said schools could reschedule exams. “These are internal school exams, not board exams that dates cannot be rescheduled,” said Nandede.