After year of online school, parents worried about approaching Board exams

After CBSE, state education boards are also expected to announce board exam dates anytime now.

After an academic year like no other, students of classes 10 and 12 across the country are gearing up to write their board exams in the next few months. What might have been a normal affair has become one of many complications since schools across the country have predominantly been teaching their students online, including those in these crucial levels of school education. While students at large seem to have adapted to the ‘new normal’, parents of those writing the board exams are becoming angsty by the day, and are hoping for more effort from the schools to ensure a decent result for their children. 

A few days ago, the union minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ announced that the board exams conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) for classes 10 and 12 will begin on May 4 and go on till June 10. The results of these exams will be published by July 15, the minister said. He added that practical examinations for these students will be held in their schools from March 1 and can be scheduled till the last date of their theory exams. It is expected that the state governments’ education boards and other central education boards will follow suit anytime soon. 

The announcement of board exam dates and the thought of writing one of the most important examinations of a student’s school life has left students and parents divided. While students, who have been writing their class tests and school-level exams while being supervised online, are confident of writing exams the normal way, parents are a worried lot. 

Parents convey angst

Ajay*, a class 10 student from Chennai told TNM that he is not too concerned about the board exams. “In my class at least, a lot of us are sure that we will get good marks. Because though classes have been online, we have been having tests like normal only. So we are well-prepared,” he said. 

Another student from Mangaluru who is in her class 10, told TNM that she does not see much difference between the teaching imparted online and offline by her school. “We have also completed portions and started revision. We have been writing tests frequently. Classes have been online since May,” she said, adding that tuition classes have helped her to cope with the exam preparations.  

However, parents feel that now, there is a general lax in preparation and seriousness towards exams. For example, Ajay’s mother Usha* is a little worried about the impact the new trend of online classes will have on the students. 

“The study hours have dropped considerably. What used to be till 3.45 pm, is now only till 12.40 pm. The implicit understanding is that students will use the remaining time to study and catch up with it on their own. But I am sure most of them don’t, including my son. Because, the students tune off after the class hours and they think it is free time. It is not so. So the first batch will definitely struggle,” she said.

But she added that the system of online education may benefit students later in their lives, as it may push them to be more disciplined. “But then when that becomes the norm, they (students) will realise that there is a lot they have to do by themselves and not expect the teachers to spoon feed. In the long run, I think this is a good thing because this helps students build self-discipline, which many don’t bring in to their systems until very late in life,” she explained. 

Yamini Udaykumar, a parent of a class 10 student from Bengaluru expressed similar fears. 

“The students always have doubts to be cleared and how much can you even do online? There are times when we cannot even say whether the child is concentrating or not. The teachers cannot have a complete eye on the entire class online. I think there is a lot of difference between online class and offline classes,” she said, adding that in classrooms, students get better individual attention from their teachers. She also pointed out that students’ enthusiasm to learn has come down over the last several months, because they are confined to their houses and the screens have become their schools. 

School environment vs safety

Ajay’s school had conducted a consultation session with the parents soon after Deepavali last year, to know their thoughts on reopening the school. Usha said that the precautionary measures around COVID-19 prevention were followed extremely well in the school during the meeting. 

“This year, I think the schools should at least open for students of classes 9 to 12. They see the impact of COVID-19 around them and are aware of how to behave too, to keep everyone safe. Masks should be made a part of the uniform and appropriate punishments can be given if students are found without masks in the premises, just like how schools penalise students for not wearing uniform,” she said. 

However, Yamini expressed concern over the safety of the children even if schools were to open their doors for students. “It is better if the children stay indoors because once they go to school, they will not maintain social distance or anything. It then becomes risky for all the people, including the child and the elders at home,” she said. Adding that even when the students go to school for board exams, they end up interacting with other students, Yamini said, “I think when it comes to board exams, if the schools maintain only a few children in one room and have good precautionary measures in place, then I think without a choice we have to send the children.”

(*Names changed on request)

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