For Tejasvin Samarth, 14, sports and debates were never a priority. Not because he did not like them, but maintaining his top rank in class was a bigger concern for him and his parents.
But ever since Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools started marking class nine and 10 students on co-curricular activities, as a part of the grading system introduced three months ago, Samarth and many others are without guilt enjoying school.
“Teacher’s used to always encourage these activities, but being marked on them is a different deal altogether,” said Samarth. Apart from making class 10 board examinations optional, the new CBSE system evaluates students on many soft skills such as thinking, emotional skills, attitudes, values, scientific skills, aesthetic and creative skills.
Though, there are a few parents who feel that giving non-academic subjects graded importance might distract the students at that age.
Many city schools have already developed innovative programmes to bring out the required skill sets in students. At DAV Public School in Nerul, students now plan the morning assembly on a theme of their choice. RN Podar School in Santacruz taught history lessons to their students through a musical story-telling session, only to test the grasping power of students who are generally used to mugging up information from books.
It has also introduced regular poetry competitions that help teachers feel more empathetic towards the student and learn about their psyche and aesthetics.
“These activities are making school more fun for the teachers too, who also get tired with the daily monotony,” said Avnita Bir, principal of RN Podar School in Santacruz.
“Surprisingly the class is quieter now,” said Shubham Mishra, (14) a class nine student of RN Podar School. “I know we’re being watched at all times, so there is this fear of being judged at all times. But I get a chance to stand out if I do something different.”
However, some parents feel that developing a flair in extra curricular activities may be tougher for the student than studying schoolbooks. “If my daughter is not confident on stage but is great in Math, she will still lose out on an aspect of her final report, which is not entirely fair,” said Shobha Dutta, mother of a Navi Mumbai Kendriya Vidyalaya student. “Her future profession might have nothing to do with being good in sports or drama.”
Schools, therefore, arranging regular meetings with parents. Rajhans Vidyalaya in Andheri has plans to consider parents' suggestions on the assessment techniques.
“Students now have a lot more liberty to understand the subject at ease,” said Rakesh Joshi, principal of Apeejay School in Nerul, which is currently focusing on assessing students in small groups.
Some principals, however, have highlighted the need for the backward integration of this system. “If they are subjected to this system for longer, it will play a stronger role in shaping their permanent behaviour,” said Kushal.