The covid-19 pandemic has already consumed much of the academic year of schools and other educational institutions. It is also unlikely that educational institutions would reopen anytime soon.
Recognizing pedagogical challenges for teachers and learning problems for students, the government has announced 30 percent reduction in the syllabus for both 10th and 12 standards. The announcement was made by Principal Secretary to School Education in a tweet, recognizing the stresses of the child. In other words, the policymakers agreed that the curriculum remains among the causes of stress for students.
The government decision is in consonance with the Central Board of Secondary Education, announcing the reduction in the syllabus for classes 9 to 12 by 30% this year due to the disruption caused by the pandemic. While the Jammu and Kashmir State Board of School Education delayed the announcement by month, it is, never the less, in the right direction.
The decision 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. While the reduction in the syllabus has been announced, the government should also explore assessment based examination as a viable option for the benefit of the students. The modalities for assessment can be worked out by the authorities and may include online assignments etc.
While the decision on syllabus stands taken, the other options should be worked out within a reasonable dispatch especially considering the health and mental wellbeing of all the pupils 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. It is expected that the authorities while reducing the syllabus have retained the core concepts. The school education department also did 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 decision to reduce the syllabus would prevent learning gaps created by the pandemic situation which can cause a devastating sense of emotional damage, anxiety, and uncertainty among teachers, students and parents.