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Pen-and-paper ICSE and ISC: Gerry Arathoon

Schools must hold two months of on-campus classes before board exams, says Chief
Gerry Arathoon
Gerry Arathoon
Telegraph picture

Jhinuk Mazumdar   |   Calcutta   |   Published 19.12.20, 01:57 AM

The ICSE and ISC exams will be pen and paper and there must be at least two months of on-campus classes before the boards can take place, the chief executive and secretary of the council, Gerry Arathoon, said on Friday.

“It (the board exams) will have to be a pen-and-paper exam. Online exams will not be practical given the connectivity problem and issues of availability of laptop for a section of students. Two months of rigorous teaching has to be done (in the school) before the board exam. The Class X and XII students will have to come to school for practical classes, to complete projects, for revision and clearing of doubts,” Arathoon, the chief executive and secretary of the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), told The Telegraph over the phone.

The council chief conveyed this message to 1,500-odd principals online in the annual meeting of the Association of Schools for the ISC on Friday.

“Not all students have laptops and they are using smartphones. All parents cannot afford to buy laptops. Many of them are unable to pay the fees so can they buy a laptop? There are parents who have had salary cuts also,” said Arathoon.

Speaking about poor connectivity, he said that even during the online meeting there were interruptions. “We lost connectivity four times.”

Arathoon said he had written to the chief ministers of all states to allow schools to “reopen partially” from January 4 for the students of Classes X and XII to attend practical classes, “doubt clearing” lessons and do project work.

The council has also requested the chief election commissioner to share the election dates of the states that are set to go to polls in April and May, so the council can “finalise” the schedules of next year’s ICSE (Class X) and ISC (Class XII) exams.

“Once we know the dates, we can form the schedule of the board exams. Bengal is one state where elections are due,” said Arathoon. There are about 430 ICSE and 250-odd ISC schools in Bengal.

Usually, the Class X board exams begin in March and Class XII begin in February.

“I cannot see the board exams taking place in February or March because schools have not reopened yet,” Arathoon said. “Students have attended online classes but they need to be in school for teaching lessons, practical and revision.”

All schools have been closed since March as a

precaution against Covid. Schools have been conducting online classes. But many teachers said that for practical classes, showing the experiments online is not enough, the students have to do it themselves.

Arathoon said schools have to tell the parents to let their children attend on-campus classes.

“At least parents of Classes X and XII will have to be educated by the schools. The importance of sending the children to school will have to be communicated to them. Of course the SOPs have to be maintained. Gradually we have to inculcate some kind of assurance to parents that children will be safe and only then can the boards be conducted successfully in school,” he said.

“There are parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling, remote areas in Odisha and Chhattisgarh where connectivity is a huge issue. As Mr. Arathoon pointed out, since connectivity is not proper throughout the country, a pen-and-paper exam is the best solution,” said Sujoy Biswas, the president of the Association of Schools for the ISC.

Principals who attended Friday’s meeting agreed with the council.

“Two months is a good time span to give the students proper practice and bring them to school in a staggered manner,” said Damayanti Mukherjee, the principal of Modern High School for Girls.

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