Will exams be conducted in offline or online mode? What about NEET 2021? Will there be a reduction in syllabus? Read what Education Minister Pokhriyal had to say during the live session today
Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank made a major announcement on December 31, 2020. In a live video, Pokhriyal announced the dates for the CBSE board exams. The class 10 and 12 board exams 2021 will be held from May 4 to June 10. The results of the board exams will be declared by July 15.
Earlier this month, Pokhriyal had clarified in the live session conducted on December 22, 2020 between him and teachers that there would be no CBSE board exams till February 2021. Pokhriyal had also ruled out the possibility of online examinations stating that many schools were situated in rural areas where the students still did not have proper electricity and internet access.
On December 10, Pokhriyal held a live online session to address the concerns of students and parent in the light of the impact that COVID-19 has on the education of the country. He began with a quote by the great social reformer Swami Vivekananda on how greater difficulties bring greater success and congratulated all students who passed the 2020 board exams.
Pokhriyal made it clear, among other things, that the government was doing its best to ensure education is not hampered, and exams are held as per scheduled. Earlier, he had asked all students and parents to raise their concerns with the Education Ministry so that he could address them during the live session.
It was evident from the questions that most students were concerned about the exam dates for various exams such as the CBSE board exams and competitive exams such as the JEE and NEET amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Note: The points from the live session held on December 22 and the live session held on December 10 have been combined.
CBSE exams dates, syllabus reduction
The Education Ministry clearly stated that no examinations will be held till February 2021. Dates have not been confirmed as yet. Exams will be held on reduced syllabus and internal choices. Pokhriyal stated that the CBSE has already reduced the syllabus by around 30 per cent. However, there is no plan to reduce the syllabus further. There will be 33 per cent internal choices in the exams.
CBSE board exams
In case schools continue to remain shut, there will be an alternate mode of assessment instead of the CBSE class 10 and class 12 board exams. There is no mandate that the exams will be held in March and a postponement could be considered taking the current situation into account. However, no definite date has been fixed.
Vocational education, internship to be introduced from class 6
Pokhriyal also said that vocational training along with an internship will be introduced from class 6 onwards. This has been introduced under the NEP 2020. He also spoke at length on the key role played by teachers and compared them to corona warriors. He praised teachers for working hard to ensure that no student faced any difficulty when it came to studies.
"A teacher is a key between the drafting of the National Education Policy (NEP) and its implementation on the ground."
Psychiatrists to the aid of teachers and students
Pokhriyal also said that more than 500 psychiatrists were made available to students to help them deal with any kind of mental stress during the lockdown. Pokhriyal spoke about the Manodarpan initiative that the MHRD had launched in July this year with an aim to provide psycho-social support and counselling to students for their mental health and well- being.
'My Book My Friend' campaign:
Pokhriyal also spoke at length about the 'My Book My Friend' campaign.
"We have launched a campaign called 'My Book My Friend' to help students deal with mental stress. Also, we saw that at some of India's premier institutes such as the IITs students have come up with remarkable solutions to fight the virus."
The main aim of the campaign is to promote reading habits among students and encourage them to go beyond textbooks and explore new fictional characters through different stories and analyze them innovatively.
Through the campaign, many students would have access to a wide range of e-books, which would be a great way combat isolation and help cope with their fear and anxieties that the pandemic could have brought among them.
More internal choices in JEE Main 2021
Students have to answer only 75 out of the 90 questions in each section. Additionally, students whose boards have reduced syllabus by 30 per cent to have lesser choices but they will not be at any loss.
JEE syllabus reduction
In response to a student's question on the possible reduction of the syllabus of JEE Main and JEE Advanced, Pokhriyal stated that discussions are going on regarding this. While many boards have reduced syllabus, others have decided not to. A decision to be taken after assessing the situation.
"We are discussing the syllabus of JEE Main 2021 so that students from all boards can participate."
Earlier this year, NEET 2020 was held successfully. Seventeen lakh students appeared for NEET 2020 making it the largest public examination to be held during the pandemic.
No plans to postpone NEET 2021
Pokhriyal stressed that there were no plans to cancel NEET 2021 . He also stated that many students he interacted with wanted NEET to be held as soon as possible.
In response to a student's query on whether NEET will be held offline or online, Pokhriyal said that while NEET has always been held offline till now, the ministry would think about the prospect of taking the exams online.
"We postponed NEET thrice this year and even gave students an opportunity to change their exam centers. We could have gone ahead and cancelled the exam, but it would have been a great loss to the students and the country."
Dates for various exams will be set while avoiding the probability of a clash between two exams and ensuring students have enough time to prepare for all of them.
National Testing Agency (NTA) will discuss with state and central boards and finalize the syllabus cut, if required. Multiple attempts for JEE and NEET will be considered.
Reopening of schools
During the session, Pokhriyal stressed on the fact that even during the pandemic, a total of 17 states had re-opened schools with minimal attendance and with all safety precautions in place. He stressed on the fact that more and more students should go back to school soon.
The government has shifted all learning online for the benefit of the students and made an easily accessible digital library. Many websites have been created to provide online study materials to students.
The new Education Policy is a result of collaborations between the government, the experts, students, and parents. It has incorporated all their useful suggestions and feedback. The minister mentioned how Cambridge University has lauded the efforts that went into creating this policy and expressed a desire for India to become a world leader in education.
Role of parents
Pokhriyal stressed that all parents and guardians should try their best to become a warrior against the pandemic and go through the new education policy. They shouldn't measure children based on marks alone and encourage little ones to spend more time with family.
"The pandemic has provided a golden opportunity for students to spend time with family. It is an opportunity to learn to cook, listen to stories from grandparents and write those stories down, spend more time with parents, etc. One should make good use of this time."
Students have successfully adapted to the new normal and used this time to explore new hobbies and develop new skills. The prime minister of India is also constantly communicating with the student community to keep them motivated.
The minister also spoke at length about the government's initiatives to tackle mental health issues of students. Qualified psychiatrists will be made available to answer students' concerns online, said Pokhriyal.
The Education Ministry is working with the CBSE helpline to address mental health issues of students.
After the session was over, he tweeted, "Dear students, I had a great time interacting with you #live today via #EducationMinisterGoesLive. Thank you for tuning in! I hope you received answers to your queries related to upcoming competitive/board exams."
About the author:
Written by Team ParentCircle on December 10, 2020. Revised on December 22, 2020.
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