New Delhi: The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has decided to revise the academic calendar for schools and colleges following the Prime Minister’s announcement of a 21-day lockdown from Tuesday midnight to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
The HRD ministry late Tuesday sent a circular to all the states and autonomous bodies such as the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), asking them to work on an alternate academic calendar.
B.V.R.C. Purushottam, Private Secretary to HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, confirmed this. “On the orders of the minister, we sent a circular to all the states and autonomous bodies last night. It was based on the orders of the MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs),” he said. “Autonomous bodies and NCERT have been asked to draft alternate academic calendars.”
The academic calendar
Schools affiliated to the CBSE traditionally begin their new sessions in the first week of April and then break for summer vacations in May or June depending on different schools and classes. The session then resumes between July and August. Many state boards also follow a similar calendar of completing exams before April, and declaring vacations from May before restarting in July.
This pattern, however, will have to be changed this year as schools cannot reopen in the first week of April due to the lockdown.
As far as higher education institutions are concerned, most institutes ensure a break in May, after finishing exams by April. The new session begins between late July and early August.
Sources in the government said discussions are on to consider the lockdown as a vacation period for schools and start the new session once the situation returns to normal. The modalities of the arrangement are still being worked out.
Entrance exam schedule to be revised
The government has also asked CBSE, the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), and the National Testing Agency (NTA) to work on a revised schedule of entrance exams.
As of now, only the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) has been rescheduled, but no new date has not been announced. There has been no decision on the rescheduling of the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET), for medical colleges in the country, even though the admit cards are to be out by 27 March.
The order sent to the states and autonomous bodies also said the MHRD and all its autonomous bodies will remain closed for three weeks, but officers would work from home.
“In compliance of the order dated 24.3.2020 issued by MHA, all offices of MHRD and its autonomous institutions and subordinate offices shall remain closed for a period of three weeks. However, all officers and staff shall be working from home as per the said order,” the order sent to states and autonomous bodies read.