CBSE syllabus: Completing curriculum vs acquiring long-lasting knowledge

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) recently announced that it will not be reducing the syllabus for class IX to class XII students for the academic year 2021-22. In the 2020-21 academic year, CBSE had decided to reduce at least 30% syllabus to make up for the time lost due to Covid-19.

The lockdown in 2020 resulted in online classes and technological disruptions that compelled the government to decide on reducing the syllabus. As the situation limping to normalcy, the CBSE directed the schools to go back to the regular curriculum.

“Public schools’ students and teachers had internet connections and electronic devices so completing the curriculum was not a problem,” says Manimala Roy, Principal, Basava International School, New Delhi. She explains that the real challenge is to make retain what was taught to them online.


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Children got stressed out while staying at home, due to limited interaction with friends. Roy says this is a major issue that has surfaced now. “If weincrease the syllabus, we can take longer classes and we will be able to manage, but how will it affect the student’s personality?” she asks.

Usha Kashyap, a Sanskrit teacher with Dream India School, Raipur, says that with online classes it was difficult to tell whether the students were concentrating or not as they would switch off their cameras. “They could well be playing video games. When physical classes resumed, students told me they were not able to understand much in online classes and struggled. Also, not all children were able to study online, some of them did not have smartphones or laptops at home. We hope that things will improve by 2022 and students will be able to return to school.”

Kapil Kumar, from Government Boys Senior Secondary School, Pusa, New Delhi, says that he managed to complete the syllabus in time; however, he faced some problems with understanding Maths lessons online. He got thesmartphone in January, before that he used to go to a friend’s house to study.

“In 2020, we were still understanding the online platform, while this year, we are better prepared. We run schools in rural Karnataka where parents do not have additional devices for their children. Due to which the classes were conducted post 5 pm,” says Preeti Dodwad, coordinator, Karnataka Lingayat Education, KLE, Society, English Medium Schools, Belgaum.

Archana Bhatia, a teacher with a public school, says, “For a child who cannot concentrate in a classroom finds equally challenging to focus while on a gadget.” Several teachers complained of parents hovering around their children and criticising the teachers’ pronunciation while conducting the online classes.

The board exams will be held at authorized centres, but exams in other classes are being conducted online. “There is a moral dimension also as senior students are not hesitating in copying answers from Google for long questions,” Roy points out, suggesting that completing the syllabus will have no meaning if we are not able to groom students properly. Tuition teacher, Kritika Bhatia reveals that some parents requested her to be near the phone when their children write exams, so that they can ask her answers to questions children find difficult. In such a scenario, parental supervision is a must. “We can’t do the same invigilation that we do in the classroom, so parental cooperation will be needed, if the parents are vigilant, we will be able to get through it,” says Dodwad.

To circumvent the problem of copying from Google, Roy says,“We are in the process of formulating a system where the teacher will take a lesson and will soon after conduct a viva, by picking the students randomly. We will make learning project-based, last year also there were projects, but teachers had to get after the senior students to get them to submit projects,” she adds.

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