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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

COVID-19 forces cancellation of top Olympiads, a few go online

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the Olympiads for school children have either been cancelled or will be held online

Written by Arnab Mitra | New Delhi | Updated: September 3, 2020 5:10:49 pm
Check dates for Olympiad programmes. Representational image/ gettyimages.in

India first participated in the International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO) in 1989. Since then, these global competitions have become immensely popular among school children in the country, with the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE) being the nodal centre for Olympiad programmes.

This year, however, the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the schedule for most of these competitions. Though the International Olympiad Foundation (IOF) has proposed a separate online competition, India has decided not to participate due to the risk of students getting infected with the virus.

“The programme is delayed by a few months but will be carried out as soon as the situation allows us to do so. While it may take some time to finalise the exact schedule of enrollment and examinations, it is decided that no examination for the Olympiad cycle of 2020-21 will be held before December 31,” HBCSE said.

Apart from IMO and the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO), Olympiads for other subjects like Astronomy, Biology, Junior Science, Physics have also been cancelled. The International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO) is scheduled to be held in December.

Olympiads go online

Though HBCSE will decide on dates after December 31, a few private institutions will conduct the test both online and offline.

The Unified Council will conduct its National Level Science Talent Search Examination (NSTSE) on December 4 and 13. Speaking to indianexpress.com, its CEO Srinivas Kalluri, said, “As the exam will be held in online proctored mode, it is expected to have more number of students registered. The application process for the Olympiad exam was started in August, and will be continued till October-end.” Held since 1997, over 10.5 lakh students have participated in their Olympiad programme.

The Indian School Talent Search Exam (ISTSE) will be held both online and offline in November. For class 1 to 5, the online exam will be conducted on November 1, while for class 6 to 10, it will be held on November 8. The paper-based exam will be held on November 25. The National Level Science Talent Search Examination (NSTSE) will be conducted on December 4 and 13. The other Olympiads are being conducted by Silver Zone Foundation, Indian Talent Olympiad.

For a competitive edge

Students and teachers believe that these competitions help students in getting admissions in prestigious institutes or in jobs — both government and multinational corporations (MNCs).

Souradeep Das, who topped West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination (WBJEE 2020), said students who qualify for national Olympiads get a chance to be trained by renowned teachers. “They are able to learn deeper cores of the subject which help them at higher studies like BSc and MSc levels,” he said.

Minal Anand, the founder of tutoring platform GuruQ said the Olympiad exam is a step ahead of the country’s evaluation system. “Our education focuses on testing the learners’ ability to memorise concepts rather than understanding the application of them. Apart from getting admissions in top colleges, the students can have a bright career in getting jobs in technological firms, MNCs, government departments,” he said.

The Olympiad Committee also provides scholarships to bright minds. As per the scholarship scheme, around 300 female and 120 male students coming from economically weaker sections receive a scholarship of around Rs 5000.

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