2020-07-07 18:14:00
Ramesh Pokhriyal

The Union government on Tuesday asked the central board of secondary education (CBSE) to revise its curriculum and reduce course load on students by up to 30% in the academic year 2020-21. The direction has been issued considering the time lost to disruptions caused by the spread of covid-19.

“Considering the importance of learning achievement, it has been decided to rationalize syllabus up to 30% by retaining core concepts,” Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal announced on Tuesday.

“Looking at the extraordinary situation prevailing in the country and the world, CBSE was advised to revise the curriculum and reduce course load for the students of Classes IX to XII,” the minister added.

The need for reduction and rationalization of course load stems from the fact that schools are closed since mid-March and chances are slim that schools would reopen before September as covid-19 cases are on the rise. As of now, home ministry guidelines bar schools from reopening campuses at least till 31 July, after which it will evaluate the situation based on ground realities of covid-19.

With schools closed, parents and students have been demanding the creation of a favourable atmosphere for schooling. Online classes started at urban schools have limitations and some states are not in favour of online classes, even partially, owing to the existing digital divide.

Last month, Pokhriyal had sought public feedback on the extent to which it needs to reduce syllabus, and if such a measure was needed at all. The ministry received “more than 1,500 suggestions in this regard”.

In June, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia pitched for a 30% cut in syllabus for all grades to make up for the time lost to the pandemic. In a letter to Pokhriyal, Sisodia wrote that people needed to learn to live with coronavirus now, and that it would be better if the already existing learning spaces, such as schools, take up that role.

He noted that online teaching could only complement learning at schools and not replace it, and added that it would be a blunder if the opportunity was let to go off by not trusting schools with a bigger and bolder role, which is, to prepare children for better and responsible life and not just for a few lessons from their textbooks.

A recent survey by community platform LocalCircles showed that 76% of parents who responded felt they didn’t want schools to reopen till there were no cases for 21 days in their district and its vicinity. “Children, especially the younger ones, have a tendency of getting in close proximity of each other and implementing any social distancing protocols will be a big challenge for teachers and school administration,” the survey has said in June.

The HRD ministry’s current decision, though, affects only schools affiliated to CBSE and has no direct influence over the academic load of students and schools covered by the more than two dozen state boards of education.

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