Last week, the Central Board of Secondary Education reduced syllabus for classes 9 to 12 by 30% this year due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Jammu and Kashmir State Board Of School Education has not made any announcement regarding the reduction in syllabus or mass promotion hitherto.
The decision as regards the later is unwelcome purely for the reason that the mass promotion is not a good solution given the fact that the students will face problems in their future prospects and the credibility of their certificates will remain questionable. Not only the reduction in syllabus, there is also an assessment based examination as a viable option for the authorities to consider for the benefit of the students. The modalities for assessment can be worked out by concerned authorities and may include online assignments etc.
Whatever the decision, it should be taken with reasonable haste especially considering health and mental wellbeing of all the students who must be keen to be evaluated and promoted in a time-bound manner. The usual paper pen exam would be a difficult task to conduct but it would be too early to rule it out as a possibility given the fact the final examinations for 10 and 12th classes among others are normally conducted in October and afterward. For time being, the authorities should reduce the syllabus but at the same time, core concepts should be retained. The school education department is doing well to keep the students engaged through virtual classes or at times, some teachers are holding classes under the open sky for the benefit of the students. However, as experts keep on repeating, it can never be a substitution for formal and structured schooling where students learn through teacher-student interactions. The authorities should keep in mind that the reduction in the syllabus should be seen as easing the exam-related anxiety among students. It would also prevent learning gaps created by the pandemic situation. Last year, despite lockdown in wake of the decision on August 5, the authorities conducted examination with no reduction in syllabus. However, situations such as the one due to covid-19 lockdown can cause a devastating sense of emotional damage, anxiety, and uncertainty among teachers, students and their parents about classes, examinations, and academic progression. There is a need to address these issues systematically and find viable solutions to the satisfaction of all.