The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CBSE bans homework in Class I

New Delhi, Nov. 28: For countless kids, the bell at the end of last period in school needn’t bring dreadful reminders about counting lessons or spellings to be crammed.

Homework blues have been washed away for children — and their parents — in Classes I and II in schools under the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). The board has also asked schools to gradually implement a grading system up to Class XII.

The series of measures announced in the Lok Sabha by D. Purandareshwari, minister of state in the human resources development (HRD) ministry, went largely unnoticed in the din over Shibu Soren’s conviction. Not so among schools, most of which have welcomed the steps.

The decision was taken to reduce stress in children and to make learning a joyful experience, Purandareshwari said. Schools couldn’t have agreed more.

“It’s a landmark decision, one that will bring relief to lakhs of parents and children around the country,” said Jyoti Bose, principal of Springdales School, which already does not give kids in junior classes any homework.

For the past five years, many committees set up by the CBSE recommended abolishing homework in junior classes.

Some were more cautious. “The government must not look at learning as a tiresome and boring exercise. Instead of doing away with homework, it would be better to make it more creative and interesting,” said Shyama Chona, principal of Delhi Public School, R.K. Puram.

Back in Parliament, Purandareshwari also announced that “interesting and meaningful activities should replace dull and mechanical homework for classes two to five”.

She didn’t go into specifics, but members of a committee looking into school reforms under the CBSE say she was alluding to “work involving learning rather than mugging”.

“Children of Class II, for instance, will be asked to collect dal from their kitchen and make a collage the next day. That, too, will be learning, and it will be more interesting,” said a school principal who is part of the committee. Children in Class II could also be asked to collect the leaves they see in their garden and identify them.

“Children in Class IV could be asked to draw maps of their home or their block of houses,” the principal said.

Among the other measures announced in the House, one requires all examination processes where students can fail, to be abolished till class five. Instead, schools have been asked to use “continuous and comprehensive evaluation”.

Most CBSE schools already follow this practice — of not detaining students till Class V — but the decision will force them to look at other modes of performance evaluation other than exams based on marks. Schools will build comprehensive health programmes for students while focusing on “developing self-awareness, inter-personal relationship, equanimity and strength of character”.

Special programmes that help students deal with physical, emotional and mental issues during adolescence will have to be offered from Classes VI to XII, the minister said, adding schools should also train teachers in dealing with children who have special disabilities.

“Soft subjects like dancing, art, music and crafts should be given emphasis,” Purandareshwari said.

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