The first competency test for Maharashtra schools – to assess students’ basic skills in first language and mathematics – will be held during Ganeshotsav.
After delaying the process thrice, the state education department has decided to ask schools to pick days between September 14 and 30, after talking to their Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA).
Students from Class 2 to Class 8 have to write the test based on the previous year’s syllabus.
The tests were first scheduled for July and then shifted to August. Later, they were to be held between September 7 and 13, but this too had to be postponed because the question papers were not ready.
The schools have to consult the PTAs and pick dates, as a government resolution (GR) says neither schools nor the government can hold exams during festivals without asking parents.
“We cannot help scheduling the exams during the festival, because we can’t afford further delays,” said Nand Kumar, the principal secretary of the department. “We have to conduct the second round by October-November.”
Kumar said schools will only have to hold the exams on two days.
The question papers will reach schools through zonal education inspectors. These are common papers designed by the Maharashtra State Council of Educational Research and Training (MSCERT).
“The exams have to be conducted at the school level, teachers will assess the papers and enter the marks online for the government database SARAL,” Kumar said.
The move is facing criticism from several schools and teachers. “Students from several communities study in our schools. It will be impossible to reach a consensus on the dates,” said Father Francis Swamy, manager, St Mary’s School, ICSE, Mazagaon and joint secretary of the Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE).
“Many teachers and students take leave to go to their native place at this time,” said Uday Nare, spokesperson of Shikshak Bharti, a teachers’ association. “It is unfair to hold exams during this period. The September 8 GR, too, had advised against it,” Nare said.