Marks dead, CBSE Std X revolution on
Spending hours tracing the evolution of modern India's political landscape may not appeal to many 15-year-olds. But Michelle Oraa Ali, a Class X Sardar Patel Vidyalaya student, who says she usually "hates" studying, "loved" her social science assignment. Charu Sudan Kasturi reports.delhi Updated: Aug 16, 2010 07:56 IST
Spending hours tracing the evolution of modern India's political landscape may not appeal to many 15-year-olds. But Michelle Oraa Ali, a Class X Sardar Patel Vidyalaya student, who says she usually "hates" studying, "loved" her social science assignment.
She traced changes in Indian politics - from the years of undisputed Congress rule to today's coalition era - not through text-books, but veteran cartoonist R K Laxman's works.
Ali is part of the first batch of an estimated one million Class X Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) students who don't have to appear for next year's Board examination.
Instead, their performance will be evaluated throughout the year, using innovative activities where students are encouraged to experiment and express themselves, along with traditional pen-paper tests - a combination labelled as Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE).
The CBSE reforms - pushed through by Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal after years of dithering by successive governments - also include replacing marks with grades to try and reduce cutthroat competition in schooling.
For students, the biggest immediate takeaway from the CBSE reforms is a sense of relief, said Veer Singh Chauhan, a teacher at the Delhi government's Sarvodaya school within the President's Estate.
The school is rated one of the best government schools in the capital.
But the reforms could have more long term implications, which students may not see right now, he added.
"With the fear and tension of the all-important Board examination gone, students can focus on learning through the myriad activities we give them, instead of worrying solely about scores," Chauhan said.
At the President's Estate school, students were asked to bring coloured paper and use origami techniques to create various geometric shapes, before measuring the lengths of sides and angles to confirm geometry rules such as the Pythagoras Theorem.
But the classroom revolution has also left several students, parents and teachers concerned.
Akhil Nishchal at Delhi Public School, Mathura Road, complained the numerous assignments that teachers now gave meant even less time for activities unrelated to school than before.
"Now, everything is marked and adds up to one's overall performance, so you need to work hard on every assignment, every day," Nishchal said.
Raghav Sharma at Salwan Public School, said he and his parents are concerned the absence of the Class X Boards may leave him unprepared for the "big exam" - the Class XII Boards.
Several parents are also concerned about "too much power being concentrated in the hands of the teacher," who grades students.
"I am worried my son will be graded poorly because the teacher doesn't like him," said the parent of a Modern School, Barakhamba Road class X student.
As for Ali, she loved the cartoon-based lesson.
"There is no way I will ever forget what I learnt," she said.
(As CBSE does away with Class X exams, a 4-part series explores the impact)