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Plea for Classes X, XII opening

ICSE council requests chief ministers to consider January option
All schools have been closed since March as a precaution against Covid.

Jhinuk Mazumdar   |   Calcutta   |   Published 04.12.20, 03:09 AM

The ICSE council has requested 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 and “doubt clearing” lessons and do project work.

All schools have been closed since March as a precaution against Covid.

The council has also requested the chief election commissioner to share the election dates of the states that are set to go to the polls in April and May so the council can “finalise” the schedules of next year’s ICSE (Class X) and ISC (Class XII) exams, the chief executive and secretary of the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), Gerry Arathoon, said in a statement on Thursday.

“For the final run-up to the Examinations, CISCE has requested the chief ministers of all state governments/UTs to allow schools to reopen partially, specifically for the students of Classes X & XII from January 4, 2021. With the students physically attending school, this time will be utilised for practical work, project work, SUPW work and for ‘doubt clearing’ lessons. This will be extremely beneficial to the students who will now get the time to interact directly with their teachers,” Arathoon said.

Arathoon told Metro there was a difference between “online teaching and teaching in a classroom”.

“At least if schools open in January, students will get time to clear doubts and, most importantly, do practicals for physics, chemistry, biotechnology and other subjects, which have to be done in school…. We are asking for Classes X and XII. They will get some time in school and get ready for the board exams,” Arathoon said over the phone.

“Teachers have put a lot of effort into online classes. They have shown experiments from the labs and sent videos to students. But nothing can compare with children doing the practicals themselves. Students need to have hands-on experience and do the experiments themselves. Proper practical exams cannot be conducted without hands-on practicals,” he said.

On November 13, Metro had reported how teachers across schools were concerned about the loss of practical classes because of the pandemic, especially for the Class XII students.

An official in the Bengal education department said that since the council’s letter had been addressed to the chief minister, they were awaiting an instruction from her office. “This is a crucial decision. During the pandemic all decisions with regards to reopening of campuses have been taken by the chief minister,” the official said.

The statement issued by the council said the schools, if allowed to reopen, would be asked to abide by Covid-19 protocols of the respective state governments. The schools will be told to “conform to the safety guidelines and the standard operating procedures (SOP) of the state health department to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” the statement said.

CISCE has also requested the “Chief Election Commissioner of India to share the election dates of the states that are due to have their elections in the months of April-May 2021”.

Last week, Arathoon had said the ICSE and ISC board exams were not likely to take place “before the end of May or in June”.

On Thursday, Arathoon said it was difficult to say in which format the board exams would be conducted — online or pen and paper. “It is difficult to say right now… in all probability it will be pen and paper, but it all depends on the pandemic,” he told Metro.

Arathoon did mention the challenges of online board exams. “There are challenges like connectivity and bandwidth issues in an online exam. There are students who are doing classes on a smartphone. How can they write a board exam on a smartphone,” he said.

“There could also be power failure during an exam…. Imagine, if suddenly the electricity goes off, while the child is writing an online board exam,” he added.

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