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Sibal clears exam air

New Delhi, June 30: The Class X board examination may be made optional for Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools as soon as next year, but detailed consultations will precede the proposed reforms, education minister Kapil Sibal clarified today.

Faced with opposition from the BJP and concerns raised by states, Sibal today challenged his detractors but clarified that the government would hold detailed consultations with all stakeholders before proceeding with planned reforms.

“The consultations will begin very soon, well within a hundred days,” Sibal said.

Concerns were raised by several states and sections of the education community over the proposed reforms being announced without any consultations.

Sibal’s comments today indicated the pressure he is under to clarify that his reform plans are not authoritarian, but the HRD minister also threw a challenge to his detractors. “Let those who are opposing me come out and say that they believe all is fine with our education system,” he said.

Sibal said he would follow a two-stage approach to examination and evaluation reforms articulated in the National Policy on Education, 1986, and argued that his proposals were in keeping with existing government policy.

In the first stage, the HRD ministry will consult teachers, parents, students and management of schools affiliated to the centrally-run CBSE on the proposal to make the Class X board examination optional.

“If these consultations succeed in the manner in which I expect them to, we may be in a position to implement the optional Class X board examination for CBSE schools from 2010,” Sibal said.

Bringing state governments on board will constitute the second stage.

The proposed CBSE grading system for the Class X exam will do away with the term “failure” to lessen the stigma attached to poor performance, a PTI report said.

“The last grade... will say the student ‘needs improvement’,” a CBSE official said.

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