Schools in the Gulf are in a better position to conduct the Central Board of Secondary Education’s (CBSE) practical exams for 2020-21, teachers in the UAE have contended.
The board on Monday released the possible dates for Class XII practical examinations — tentatively scheduled early next year — quelling speculations of the tests being postponed or cancelled in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
‘Not without concerns’
Speaking to Khaleej Times, principals in CBSE-affiliated UAE schools explained that in the Middle East, institutions are far more exam-ready, but not without concerns.
Arogya Reddy, Principal, Ambassador School Sharjah, pointed out: “In this region, the Covid-19 led disruptions have been relatively far less and many students have started returning to schools physically now. Though, the final notification or SOPs regarding the exam schedule for students of classes X and XII are yet to be formally announced by the board, we are hopeful that CBSE would customise assessments following the alternative calendar for students by focusing more on research, internal assessments, project submissions and even making use of the virtual labs that teach and test through simulations. These digital platforms will also be instrumental in conducting these practical exams. The board has a very progressive outlook and is quite student-friendly.”
Head teachers explained that these exams may need to be held in a staggered way over a longer period of time for subjects like biology, physics and chemistry.
Meanwhile, schools have already started preparing their students for all kinds of exams under any circumstances.
Dr Brian Gray, Principal, Springdales School, Dubai, said: “Senior students have been given the option to attend school in short bursts
to practice their lab skills to give them confidence to be ready for the practical final exams in January/February.”
Principals averred that complying with strict hygiene protocols as per the guidelines set by the authorities will be high on the agenda.
Gray added: “The CBSE has to look at increasing the number of exam centres keeping in mind social distancing and number restrictions. Logistic planning needs to be robust and well in place. The number of invigilators will increase and students will have to use their own transport to reach the venue of the exam.”
Throwing light on the possible challenges, headmasters highlighted that in case there are any Covid-19 positive students at the time of exams, the board may have to keep alternatives in place for such scenarios.
Mohammad Ali Kottakkulam, Principal, Gulf Indian High School Dubai, said: “Usually, students take practical examinations in batches and in the present circumstances, schools might have to reduce the size of the batches to fit it exactly as per the social distancing norms. The possible challenge will be the cases of students, who happen to be positive at the time, and those who are suffering from chronic illnesses. However, schools in the UAE are prepared to conduct the practical and theory exams of CBSE ‘physically’ following the protocols and guidelines issued by the regulatory authorities.”
Schools reiterated safety of the students will be of utmost importance while cooperation from parents will also be key.
Lalitha Sureh, Principal at GEMS Our Indian School, underlined: “Another impediment is some of our students are in India. So, individual representations have been sent to the board with proper evidence and parental consent to change their centres or treat it on a case-by-case basis. But a lot of things are subject to further formal announcements and intimation from the CBSE.”
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