Covid-19 shuttered schools and forced students, who could, to study online at home. There has been a long period of learning loss for the students of Jammu and Kashmir as compared to their counterparts in other parts of India or elsewhere. It has been a major setback in itself, affecting the physical and mental health of most students besides depriving them of vital skill development. As things stand, it is unlikely that educational institutions would reopen anytime soon, particularly for middle, primary and lower-primary classes.
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 for the second year in a row. The announcement has been made recognizing the stresses of the pupils. In other words, the policymakers agreed that the curriculum remains among the causes of stress for students.
The administration’s decision, though delayed, is nevertheless in the right direction.
The decision is welcome 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 must prepare for having offline examinations.
The usual paper pen exam should not 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. As per officials, the question papers will be set from the entire syllabus prescribed for the session. However, the students shall have to attempt questions having a weightage of 70 percent marks instead of attempting all the questions
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.