The National Independent Schools Alliance (NISA), the largest alliance of 65,400 private schools across the country has demanded the Central Board of School Education (CBSE) board promote all class X students to class XI while allowing them the choice of their subjects. Challenging the CBSE’s 2021 class X board exams marks tabulation system, NISA approached the Delhi High Court asking for its intervention in the matter to ensure justice for CBSE students across the country.
In view of the surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal announced cancellation of CBSE class X board exams 2021 on April 14. He also announced all CBSE students would be promoted to class XI on the basis of an objective criterion developed by the board. On May 1, CBSE issued a 21-page circular that not only detailed the class X internal assessments marks allotment procedures but also threatened to de-affiliate schools that did not follow the evaluation process laid down by the board. The notification asked schools to form an exam evaluation committee with seven teachers – two of whom were to be external teachers, to create a rationale for the marks being allotted to the students. Schools who are expected to complete the elaborate evaluation process by May 20 and upload the results in the first week of June are complaining about the evaluation process being unfair to both schools as well as students.
“In a bid to avoid marks inflation by schools, the board has asked each school to keep the scores closer to the average percentage as mandated by it. However, arriving at the common mean score without considering the disparity in the performance of schools in the rural and urban setup, schools are ending up with scores which are way below the school’s expected score. While it is clear the board does not trust schools, it (the board) remains unaware of the possible issues likely to crop up since schools have already shared most of the assigned internal marks with the parents. The disappointment to students apart, how would schools be able to explain lower marks to these parents now? This is bound to lead to litigation by parents,” says Archana Rodrigues, president, Private Unaided Schools Management Association (PUSMA) which is part of the 24 state school associations under NISA.
NISA which represents 12.35 million students also believes the board’s policy puts CBSE school teacher’s at risk. Writing to the CBSE chairman (letter dated May 4), NISA had asked the board to reconsider its policy saying the board’s decision was “a rational one but not a humanitarian one during the health crises.” NISA believes the decision to have teachers and the school’s support staff travelling to schools for evaluation is risky since most states have already imposed a lockdown under the Disaster Management Act and the state’s education departments have issued orders for closing schools.
“It is ridiculous that the CBSE board needs a reminder about how bad the current pandemic situation is despite thousands of teachers having already tested COVID-19 positive and many having lost their lives in the past few days alone. While on one hand, governments across states are asking people to stay indoors, the board is increasing the risk for the teaching community by forcing them to come to school and putting more people at risk. With no transport available, schools will also face logistics issues as support staff and the tech team will also need to be at the schools,” says Bharat Malik, head, Maharashtra chapter, NISA.
NISA has also written to the offices of the President, Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Education Minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal and health minister, Harsh Wardhan to direct CBSE to reconsider its policy for tabulation for class X board exams 2021.
Meanwhile parent associations want the board to return the examination fees collected from students in the absence of regular exams this year. The CBSE board collected around Rs 282.78 crore examination fees from the 17 lakhs plus students enrolled to appear for the exams this year. “We don’t believe the new assessment procedure being introduced by the CBSE board will be a fair one as the students will have no say and everything will be in the hands of teachers alone. The results are important because the results will have a bearing on our children’s careers and future. If schools were equipped to do the job, then why would we need the board to conduct exams at all? So either the board ensures that students go through regular exams or returns the exam fees else parents associations across the country are ready to approach the courts,” says Sanjay Garg, a parent from Rajasthan.
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