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May 21, 2019 Tuesday 06:53:50 PM IST

On the Cusp of Change-The New Policy Initiatives of CBSE

Guest Column

By Ruby Antony
The euphoria over the wonderful marks of classes 10 and 12 in the CBSE Board Exams 2019 has not yet died down, but the reality is slowly starting to sink in. The university cutoffs for admissions are so high that even deserving students who score more than 90% are not able to secure admission to the college of their choice. Therefore, the question arises, do these marks really reflect the true ability of the student or are they inflated in the name of ' moderation' to keep all stakeholders ' happy'? There is an increasing chorus of opinion that the entire examination and evaluation structure needs to be remodeled to keep in touch with the times.

The CBSE has realised the gravity of the situation. The premier educational body has acknowledged this reality and admitted that in the internationally acknowledged PISA test Indian students fared very badly. Thus, this year it has proposed some changes in the class 12 exams including more objective type questions which test the conceptual clarity of the student.

The CBSE has come out with a slew of policy initiatives meant to make schools 'future ready'. It has directed schools to adopt learning outcome- based education. The school is expected to focus on competencies of students rather than mere module-based learning. Thus, the CBSE has for the first time issued a compendium of learning outcomes for classes 1to 8 to schools. This is a welcome step as schools now have a yardstick to measure the progress of a student in achieving various competencies. Now that the academic year is about to begin, teachers are tailoring the annual curriculum plan to incorporate these learning outcomes. It marks a departure from the traditional system which was followed by schools all these years as the focus is on creative, critical thinking and activity-based learning. Classroom teaching will now become more engaging and not merely textbook and teacher centric. The board has mandated that the principal become the pedagogical leader of their school for the transaction of curriculum and take the lead in implementing innovative annual pedagogical plans.

In keeping with the new digital age the CBSE has introduced artificial intelligence courses for students in classes VIII, IX and X. These courses are optional.

Providing much-needed relief to scores of students stressed out by the subject Mathematics, the board has introduced two levels of mathematics for the secondary level board exam from March 2020 onwards. Mathematics 'standard' for those who wish to pursue mathematics at the senior secondary level and mathematics 'basic' for those who want to attempt a simpler question paper. The latter will not be able to pursue mathematics at the senior secondary level. The syllabus remains the same, only the difficulty level of the question paper varies. 

Another innovation this year is the integration of art with education. Contrary to popular thinking art here includes music, dance, painting culinary arts, theatre and the entire gamut of performing arts. Such an integration, it is hoped will lead to art- based enquiry and a deeper understanding of concepts. The CBSE has issued a booklet containing many suggestions for integrating art in the curriculum for the year 2019-20. 

The CBSE is carrying out a massive exercise of teacher training to keep them updated with these changes. Capacity building workshops for training faculty are in full swing at the start of the academic year. The theme of training this year is " innovative pedagogy including active learning and experiential learning". HPE (Health and Physical Education) was introduced last year and one period for sports everyday was made compulsory for classes 9 to 12. Now, this has been extended to classes 1 to 8.  

The board has decided to form groups of 4 to 6 neighborhood schools for collaborative growth. Called as 'Hubs of learning' the attempt is to create an ecosystem for schools to share best practices and support each other in curriculum planning ,teaching learning activities and professional development of its faculty . Schools can share resources like manpower, infrastructure, teaching learning material thus culminating in an enriched quality of education From organising events like quizzes and art exhibitions together to exchange of ideas and instructional strategies, schools are expected to use this shared platform effectively and be mutually beneficial to each other. The Lead Collaborator School nominated by the CBSE is expected to get all schools onboard and device the mechanism for self-improvement of schools which are a part of this hub of learning. 

There is no dearth of effort on the part of CBSE to raise the quality of education. Hopefully the results will start showing soon. Wishing all the schools the very best in this journey of discovery. May every student bloom to their full potential and be a remarkable human being.

Ruby Antony

Ruby Antony has an extensive teaching experience in secondary schools. Passionate about the job, she goes an extra mile to help provide the students with a conducive learning environment. She teaches economics to Grade XI and XII students. A post graduate in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics, she is presently Vice Principal of Rajagiri Public School, Kalamassery. She has worked on several projects of the institution under the British Council.

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