New Delhi, March 21: All work and no play could become the mantra from the coming academic session for children in Classes VI to X at schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education.
India's largest school education board today abandoned its decade-old practice of giving weightage to co-scholastic activities like art education, sports and community service while grading pupils from Classes VI to VIII. It had taken a similar decision for Classes IX and X a month ago.
Although the schools have been advised to continue with the co-scholastic activities for the children's all-round development, educationists fear that the students and the schools will now gradually lose interest in these exercises.
The decision comes at a time a study by a Delhi tech school has suggested that a wider interest in sports, arts, music or scientific pursuits may better equip a student academically than a narrow focus on studies and exams.
The CBSE has also prescribed a uniform examination system that all its 18,688 affiliated schools must follow for these three classes.
Board sources said the decision was taken after spotting a lack of seriousness among the students about their studies and their consequent poor performances in board examinations.
A school principal, however, said many schools were not conducting the co-scholastic activities properly, and their students were therefore focused neither on their studies nor on these extracurricular areas.
But the principal backed the board's latest decision, saying: "This is a good move. The proper conduct of co-scholastic activities was always a challenge in schools with large numbers of students. Now the grading will be solely on the basis of academic performance."
Board chairperson Rajesh Kumar Chaturvedi said the uniform system of assessment the schools will now follow "will facilitate a seamless migration of children across schools".
Currently, some schools conduct two exams a year while others hold them every three months. So far, the CBSE has had no norms on the number of exams till Class VIII.
The board's regional offices will periodically inspect the schools in their areas to see whether they are following the uniform examination system.
Officially, the co-scholastic activities will continue, with the schools certifying their pupils' performances on a three-point scale: outstanding, very good and fair. But this will have no bearing on the child's overall grade.
Several academics expressed surprise at the move.
"The CBSE should have come up with guidelines to ensure the schools carry out the co-scholastic activities better. This idea of 'only studies' doesn't help develop a student's personality," said Dheeraj Sanghi, a professor with the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi.
A recent study by the institute had found that those of its students who had gained admission largely with the help of bonus points awarded for extra-curricular activities tended to outshine those who had made it solely on the basis of their JEE Main scores.