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Appearing for Class 10, and 12 board exams twice a year is optional, not mandatory: Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan

While speaking to PTI, the Education Minister covered many issues that stress students and their parents including the concerns around the mushrooming of ‘dummy schools’, student suicides in Kota, and the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE). 

On 8th October, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan reassured students and parents that the new proposal allowing students of Class 10 and 12 to appear twice in a year has been done to alleviate their stress level arising out of fear of a single opportunity. In an interview with PTI, he asserted that appearing twice a year for the Class 10 and 12 board exams will now be an optional facility for students, instead of being a mandatory requirement

While speaking to PTI, the Education Minister covered many issues that stress students and their parents including the concerns around the mushrooming of ‘dummy schools’, student suicides in Kota, and the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE). 

Earlier in August, the Ministry of Education announced the New Curriculum Framework (NCF). As per the NCF, board examinations will be held twice a year so that students have enough time to prepare and retain the best scores.

Explaining this proposal further, Pradhan said, “The students will have the option of appearing for the exams twice a year, just like the engineering entrance exam JEE. They can choose the best score…but it will be completely optional, no compulsion.”

He added that the students often get stressed thinking they lost a year, their chance is gone or they could have performed better. He emphasised that the option is being introduced to reduce the stress caused by the fear of a single opportunity.

Assuring that it is not mandatory, he said, “If any student feels that he is completely prepared and is satisfied with the score in the first set of exams, he can choose not to appear for the next exams. Nothing will be mandatory.” 

He stated that the proposal has received positive feedback from students and announced that the Ministry is trying that the board exams are conducted twice a year from 2024 itself.

Earlier during the COVID-19 pandemic, the board exams for classes 10 and 12 were split into two terms as a one-time measure. Consequently, the old format of the year-end examination resumed this year. 

Collective responsibility to alleviate Examination stress

The Education Minister highlighted PM Modi’s session with the young students advising them not to get stressed out about examinations. He said, “In a country where Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself counsels the students on how to remain stress-free during exams in his annual ‘Pariksha Pe Charcha’, such an examination reform is necessary. He tells students not to be scared of exams but to defeat them, ‘pariksha ki pariskha lo’ (take the exam’s exam).” 

Speaking about the record number of student suicides reported in Rajasthan’s Kota this year, Pradhan reiterated that it is a very sensitive issue adding that it is our collective responsibility to ensure that the students are stress-free. 

According to official figures, this year alone around 25 students have committed suicide which is the highest ever for the country’s coaching hub. 

He stressed concerns about the issue of ‘dummy schools’ emphasising that time has come to have a serious discussion about this issue. 

He said, “The issue cannot be ignored. Although the number of such students is not very high as compared to the total number of students… the time has come to have serious discussions and deliberations on the subject.”  

Notably, several competitive exam aspirants enroll themselves in schools in their home states while they attend coaching classes in Kota. Despite never attending full-time schools, they appear for board exams. 

Numerous experts have raised concerns about the existence of ‘dummy schools’. They maintain that students who do not attend school may face hindrances in their personal development, leading to feelings of isolation and stress.

Educational Institutions and Organisational structure

Responding to the query about why the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) hasn’t met in the last three years, Pradhan said, “CABE is being reconstituted”. 

He added, “The older version of CABE was very broad…demands of today’s education system are different. At a time when we are making a paradigm shift with the new National Education Policy, CABE also needs to be remodeled. At the end of the day, CABE will review what is being introduced now, be it a new curriculum, new credit framework, accreditation, or any other reform.”

The minister also noted that the establishment of offshore campuses for two IITs, namely Delhi and Madras, is currently in advanced stages, and discussions are underway with several other countries that have shown interest.

Regarding this, Pradhan said, “The Ministry of External Affairs is coordinating it and various kinds of options and combinations are being deliberated upon. (External Affairs) Minister (S) Jaishankar himself is looking into it. I am also with him.” 

He stated that the guidelines for foreign universities to establish campuses in India are currently being discussed and will be officially announced in the near future.

Further in the interview with PTI, the Minister was questioned about his stance on the choice made by specific states, such as Karnataka and West Bengal, to not implement the National Education Policy (NEP). 

Pradhan noted, “Their objections are not academic but political. I have still not been able to understand what their actual objection is about. West Bengal has taken out an alternative document. We have seen that and it is 99 percent similar to the NEP.” 

Pradhan, who also serves as the Minister of Skill Development, assured a strong collaboration between the ministries of education and skill development to create a work-ready generation.

He added, “To achieve this, we are creating synergy between education and skills to provide students with both academic and practical skills. Today, there are close to 1,000 skill hubs with one lakh candidates enrolled in them. Going forward, we plan to set up 5,000 such centres.” 

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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