By A Special Correspondent
First publised on 2020-07-09 12:15:33
Why do most Indians who have the power, authority and opportunity to bring about change become completely bureaucratic when faced with an unusual problem? The decision of the CBSE to reduce the syllabus by 30 percent to make up for the time lost in the academic year due to the disruption caused by the pandemic falls in this category. Here was an opportunity to do some out of the box thinking and ensure that both students and teachers could be fired to complete the syllabus in the remaining time. Yet, like bureaucrats, the CBSE took the easiest available route.
The number of working days in the remainder of the academic year could have been increased by having classes on Saturdays and curtailing festivals and winter holidays as the students have already been caged at home for the last four months. Newer and more interesting teaching and assessment methods could have been devised. Topics could have been linked and taught to give students a broader perspective. To relieve the stress of the students, instead of year-end examinations for this academic year, internal assessment and project work marks could have been considered for promotion. Teachers could have paid special attention to weaker students or those who had a problem with online classes. Every week, interesting projects could have been devised to make learning fun. All students and most teachers have become cranky by staying indoors for the last nearly four months. They need to get involved in academics in a completely different way.
There are charges, too, that the CBSE has dropped chapters on topics that are important but not liked by the ruling dispensation. For instance, chapters on democratic rights, popular struggles and movements, understanding partition, federalism, local government, nationalism and India's relation with neighbours, globalization and social change, demonetization, among many others have been left out. These are important topics and such sterilization of the syllabus is not good. Teachers have been advised to explain these topics to the extent required if connected with other topics. Such half-baked knowledge will be improper.
Most students fear year-end examinations and this year the fear will be magnified due to the cramming of the syllabus in a shorter period. But reducing the workload, especially as online classes are being held, is not the answer. Instead, CBSE should have announced that final examinations would not be held and students would be marked and promoted on the basis of their performance in class, judged on internal assessment. That would have made students better prepared to absorb the entire syllabus as a learning process and not something they would be tested on. Students must be encouraged to gain knowledge and imbibe learning through processes and not by rote.