Understanding the CBSE circular for board exams

October 15, 2021 3:58 PM

For the submission of student names for the 2022 X and XII examinations, CBSE printed a 23 page circular.

CBSE, CBSE circular, board exams, 2021 cbse board examsThere is a space to argue that CBSE, as an institution, needs time to figure out the kinks of their system.

By Mridula Srivastava

The Indian education system functions under the shadow of CBSE, dictated by regulations formatted by it. The Central Board of Secondary Education is an institutional public body which certificates the merit of educational exams, organizations, students and teachers. The goals of the Board is explained in vague referents on their official website. Objectives of the Academic Unit include, terms like ‘stress-free’, ‘holistic’, ‘child centred’ education. They imagine cultivating a future of ‘academic excellence’ and ‘innovation’ in ‘conformity with psychological, pedagogical and social principles’.

A grandiose and positively Gandhian ethic overlays the institution’s mission statement, having been set up in 1962, when the country was still idealistically young.

But the scope of CBSE has increased. From 302 affiliated schools in the beginning, the count is currently over 18000. Ensuring, or even imagining, a holistic vision for that massive a cross section of society, is a difficult task. It would typically require rigorous work. A significantly large number of capable human workers would need to be employed to analyze the contexts of academic existence in different areas and cultures, and carefully formulate context sensitive plans.

But the CBSE communicates through nationwide circulars. They are standardized notices shared with affiliate schools. To be fair to CBSE, they are well written and clear in their direction. But they simply define the procedures of conduct, and not the ethos. A circular speaking about the observance of a mental health week, dated 1st October 2021, outlines only the possible ‘activities’ that may be done in the ‘context’, and a submission of proof before a fortnight.

While a commendable initiative in theory, schools in general, and teachers and students in particular, simply become burdened by such passive aggressive demands from the Board. In its pursuit of holistic development, there is an absence of humanistic recognition.

CBSE has followed this system of communication without effective fieldwork for a long time. Under the UPA government, the CCE pattern of evaluation was initially launched, which caused massive misunderstanding amongst educationists. While the rigid pattern envisioned has been softened, the term Continuous Comprehensive Education is still part of the Board’s vision.

So, there is a space to argue that CBSE, as an institution, needs time to figure out the kinks of their system. The Covid 19 situation is an unusual one, and the Board is perhaps not equipped with the necessary systems. Hence the recent confusion over the 2022 Board exams.

But the Board hasn’t really changed its approach to communication. While the Academic Unit may be working hard to make the education system ‘stress free’, there is indeed very little reflection of that on the actual people involved in the sector.

For the submission of student names for the 2022 X and XII examinations, CBSE printed a 23 page circular. It managed to be somehow both densely packed with information, and obscure in its communication of it. The details of bureaucratic importance were minutely presented, while the ethos of the altered assessment system were left unexplained. This led to some schools announcing a series of offline exams, while others shifted completely to Multiple Choice Questions future tests.

The crux of the circular deals with the splitting of the Secondary and +2 examinations being divided into two separate Terms, and the combined result being documented. In isolation, the statement reads as a change in procedure that may go either way. But there is no consideration for the human cost of implementing it, especially in a situation as volatile as this.

To its credit, the circular details different procedures in the working structure of the system pretty well. There is a clear communication of the number of people needed, the deadlines of submission of names, results etc. However the dictates fall heavy on the underprepared educational workers and consumers, whom CBSE, as a public institution, is responsible for.

It is a repeat of the of institutional short sightedness that had caused the CCE fiasco half a decade ago. The Board has to change the way of its functioning, with a focus on contextual research by trained field workers, and a rechanneling of available funds in that direction. While the economy really hasn’t been good for any Corporation that needs to spend money for the common good, the circulation of currency is at an all time high, through different tokens of exchange. With the backing of the Government the Board has the power to work it into its advantage, and incorporate the digitalization of education to its advantage, by including experienced teachers from affiliated schools as consultants.

Because otherwise the entire education sector of our country will simply remain in a rut of blindly returning to the cycle of circulars.

(The author is Founder and Managing Partner at Endurance Classes. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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