With schools in the national capital closed since March and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) announcing practical exams in two months, several teachers and principals are concerned how these assessments will be conducted with barely any hands-on learning experience, particularly for science stream students.
As many as 2,168 schools in the national capital are affiliated to the CBSE, which typically begins conducting board exams for class 10 and 12 students in February. On Thursday, the board announced that it would conduct exams between May and June and practicals from March 1.
CBSE controller of examination Sanyam Bhardwaj specified that there would be “no dilution in quality measures of the exams” by the board. “Usually, schools would have time between January and mid-February to conduct board examinations. This time, on the other hand, after consultations with all stakeholders, we have increased that period of time. Practical exams may also be conducted by schools between March and June 10. This would allow schools to have the flexibility to conduct practical exams in smaller batches while maintaining social distancing and other Covid-19 guidelines.”
Several principals are worried as many parents aren’t keen to send their children to school before the Covid-19 vaccine is rolled out. School authorities have also deliberate to speak about the issue with parents once schools reopen after winter vacation.
Divya Bhatia, principal of Amity International School, Saket, said that it would be “unimaginable” for class 12 students to seem for science practicals in front of an outside examiner before getting any hands-on experience.
“Each and every science subject has 8-10 experiments. Students want to see the deflections of a galvanometer or make electrical circuits on their own. For Biology, they want to look at cells under a microscope to be had in school, do titration and other experiments in Chemistry,” she said, adding that they plan to talk to parents to see whether they would be willing to allow children to come to labs in smaller batches.
Principals are also uncertain approximately the mode of practical examination for the boards. Ameeta Wattal, principal of Springdales School, Pusa Road, said, “We need more clarity on if practical examinations will be conducted in online or offline mode. Whether exams are conducted in offline mode, we will be able to want to give students some hands-on experience before the test.”
The internal assessment component comprises 20-30 marks for several subjects and incessantly include a practical component in the form of projects or viva voce or both. Teachers said they don’t seem to be facing as much difficulty in other subjects as in comparison to science subjects.
For example, in Computer Science, which carries 30 marks in the practicals category, Tania Joshi, principal of The Indian School, said that since most students have computers at home, classes have continued without much difficulty. For subjects like Psychology where students are required to conduct psychological tests as practicals, the component has gone online.
“Students are either carrying out the tests online or they’re conducting it on their members of the family. For subjects like Political Science and History, teachers are organising individual virtual interplay with students for clarity on their projects,” she said, adding that they’re still waiting for directions from authorities whether schools may also be reopened or not.
The challenge is even bigger at Delhi government schools where many of the students from underprivileged backgrounds wouldn’t have uninterrupted access to “virtual labs or online practicals”.
Mudassir Jahan, head of school at a girls’ government school in south Delhi’s Noor Nagar, said, “In the next two months, whether cases minimize and the government allows, we will be able to call some students to school in smaller batches of perhaps five students while following all Covid-19 guidelines. Till then, we will be able to send recorded video experiments to them. Our concern is towards low-performing students who need extra in-person assistance in all subjects.”
Despite repeated attempts, Delhi government spokespersons and officials in the deputy chief minister’s office did not respond to requests for a remark on the matter.
In October, the Delhi government had written to CBSE over practical exams. “Practical and project work are an integral a part of any subject. It is pertinent to give students hands-on practice for a similar for a sufficient time period,” read the letter sent on October 13.