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Experts call CBSE reforms retrograde

Educationist Arun Kapur is no novice to innovations in schooling aimed at reducing student stress and aiding all-rounded growth, and has piloted several such concepts at the capital’s Vasant Valley school, where he is director.

delhi Updated: Aug 18, 2010 01:00 IST
Charu Sudan Kasturi

Educationist Arun Kapur is no novice to innovations in schooling aimed at reducing student stress and aiding all-rounded growth, and has piloted several such concepts at the capital’s Vasant Valley school, where he is director.

But he is a worried man these days, concerned about the impact of classroom and examination reforms that the Central Board of Secondary Education argues will dramatically help serve the same purpose at schools across the country.

“I don’t call them reforms at all. In fact, I believe the moves are retrograde. Replacing the Class X Board examination with continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) in its form today will actually increase pressure on children,” Kapur said when asked for his views.

Under the CCE, students are rated on their performance through the year on activities apart from term-end tests.

But as the CBSE – at present – sets the question papers for term-end summative assessments for Classes IX and X, students in fact have to undergo four board examinations over two years, Kapur argued. “Free thinking schools”, that till now had to depend on board evaluation only at the end of Class X, will now be forced to surrender even in Class IX.

Few school administrators are as direct in articulating worries about the CBSE reforms as Kapur, but several top schools harbour concerns over the way the reforms are being implemented.

Sardar Patel Vidyalaya principal Anuradha Joshi had to seek CBSE permission to change term-end Class IX question papers because another major Delhi school had held its test three days earlier, and the board question papers were in the public domain.

Joshi said that while the CBSE reforms were welcome, schools could have been given more time by the board to prepare for the changes. “Things aren’t going to change overnight. You can’t suddenly apply brakes and expect a 10-ton truck to stop instantly,” she argued.

School administrators and teachers need to constantly review teaching practices because of the reforms, said Avnita Bir, principal of Mumbai’s R.N. Podar school. “Teaching in the new system cannot be ad hoc or left to s single teacher. There is a lot of planning required and that keeps us on our toes,” she said.

CBSE and government sources accepted that many schools had complained they didn’t have adequately trained teachers to implement the CCE.

They argued that these “teething problems” would be sorted out through CBSE initiatives like mentoring and monitoring the implementation.