Punjab's director general of school education (secondary) Ashok Singla has directed government schools to conduct compartment exams for Class 9 students who had failed to clear up to two subjects in their first semester.
Although the move is a welcome one since it will give students a chance to clear the exam instead of declared passed or failed on the basis of their percentage of marks in both semesters, it has come a tad too late - only two weeks before the Class 9 second semester exams.
"The DGSE's sudden decision has confused teachers; now students who have backlog in the first semester Class 9 exam have to take the exam again," a government schoolteacher on condition of anonymity said.
"If we inform students now, it will be more of a burden on them as they have to prepare for clearing the compartmental exam as well as the second semester exam that starts from March 10. "
"The idea is to increase the pass percentage of Class 9 students and bring down the dropout rate," deputy state project director of Rastriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan Vijay Kaushal said.
"At present the dropout rate of Class 9 students is more than 10% in the state. To bring it down, we have decided to give students a chance.
"Earlier, students whose aggregate in both semesters were below the cut-off didn't get a chance to clear the exams and had to repeat the class," Kaushal said.
"Now the students who have backlog in the Class 9 first semester or second semester exams, will get time to clear the exams till the last semester of Class 10."
The question papers for the first semester Class 9 compartmental exams of 100 marks will be prepared by the respective subject teachers and syllabus will be same as it was in the September exams.
The second semester Class 9 exams will cover the whole syllabus; the question papers and date sheet will be sent by the Chandigarh head office.