CBSE Examinations Postponed. Again.

The Indian Government has now ordered that Grade 10 exams be cancelled and that Grade 12 examinations be postponed for the second time this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19
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This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19

A day after schools in Dubai informed parents and students that the International Baccalaureate Diploma examinations would not take place for Grade 12/Year 13 students, the Indian Government has announced the postponement (for Grade 12 students) and cancellation of Grade 10 CBSE curriculum examinations.  This followed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling a Coronavirus crisis meeting to address the surge in infections in the country with more than 180,000 new cases recorded within 24 hours.

The Central Board of Secondary Education Examinations conducted in Grades 10 and 12 are the Indian equivalent of GCSEs and A levels. Grade 10 exams were due to run from May 4 to June 14. Grade 10 students will be awarded grades based on criteria set by the board. Exams for grade 12 students were due to start in early May. Authorities will review the decision in June with students being given 15 days' notice if the exams are to take place.

The majority of Indian schools in the UAE follow the CBSE curriculum, with thousands of students sitting the CBSE examinations each year. At least 80,000 pupils in Dubai attend Indian curriculum schools.

Speaking on behalf of GEMS Our Own Indian School in Dubai, Principal Lalitha Suresh said that although school leavers in Grade 12 would be worried by the decision, the cancellation of Grade 10 examination is extremely positive under the current rise in the number of Covid cases in India and rest of the world.

We have conducted a number of internal assessments and two pre-board examinations for our students. Hence, we have enough data for each child that will help us to allot grades and marks. We will wait for the board to send us the details of the objective criterion based on which the promotion can be conducted. This will also enable us to start Grade 11 for these students without any further delay”.

Rashmi Nandkeolyar, Principal of Delhi Private School Dubai, where more than 200 students in grade 10 and 12 were due to sit exams in May, speaking to the media, said that teachers were gearing up to grade hundreds of students.

"We were anticipating this decision. In India the [Covid 19] numbers are very alarming right now," she said. "There has been a lot of agitation among pupils and parents. These are high-stakes exams, with pupils using these grades to get into universities in India and abroad."

Ms Nandkeolyar said Grade 10 pupils would be affected less, given they have two more years of school ahead. She had hoped exams for students in the UAE could have gone ahead, even if they were called off in India, noting that in the UAE, the pandemic is largely controlled and the number of Covid-19 cases has fallen. Ms Nandkeolyar found it encouraging that even universities outside India are recognising teacher-based assessments for admission.

Teresa Varman, Principal & CEO of GEMS Millennium School Sharjah noted that:

"The ministerial decision to place the health, safety and well-being of students above all else has been deeply appreciated by students and their parents. Most schools start Grade 11 classes based on students’ internal marks even before the Grade 10 Board Examination results are released. The cancellation of the CBSE Grade 10 Examinations has therefore come as a relief. While the postponement of the Grade 12 examinations will cause some disruption with regard to students’ future plans, it is the best decision given the present situation. We have every faith that the CBSE Board will always work in the best interest of all students."

Many governments, including the UK from which the GCSE and A Level examinations are organised, have taken the decision to assess students applying for university places based entirely on coursework and teacher assessment both in 2020 and again in 2021.

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