New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has decided to stick to schedule and start the 2020-21 academic session for schools from the first week of April through online classes. If the Covid-19 lockdown is lifted by mid-April, the government is also looking at conducting the remaining Class 10 and Class 12 board exams in the first week of May.
Amit Khare, Secretary, Human Resource Development (HRD), told ThePrint that the government is making arrangements to launch the new session online in the first week of April.
Fresh academic sessions begin in the first week of April, but the Covid-19 lockdown, which has led schools and colleges around the country to shut down, stoked fears of a delay this year.
The government had instructed the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to keep an alternative academic calendar ready, but this plan appears to have been junked.
“Classes will start online from the first week of April, to commence the new academic session. We will begin this process with Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)-affiliated schools and states can join in gradually,” said Khare.
“Some schools have already started their classes online,” he added.
In order to start classes online, schools will be advised to follow the SWAYAM TV channels run by the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), an HRD-operated portal that offers open-learning material for students at the pre-degree level. The channels, available on direct-to-home (DTH) networks, currently offer content for classes 9-12.
The NIOS has been asked to add content for junior classes too.
Some schools are also developing content on their own and trying to make use of government platforms such as DIKSHA and the NCERT E-pathshala, which are available as apps as well as websites.
“We have already begun preparations to impart lessons through online mode to our students,” said Ashok Pandey, the director of Ahlcon Group of Schools in Delhi. “For that, we are first training our teachers because online teaching and learning is a very new concept. Our teachers need to be ready for that first,” he said.
“Simultaneously, the teachers are also working on curating online content for students, so that some lessons can be imparted,” he added.
This mode of teaching is expected to help launch the new academic sessions for all students barring those in classes 10-12, who are yet to finish writing their board exams.
‘Alternative calendar for board exams ready’
On the question of board exams, which were scheduled to be held between 19 and 31 March but had to be suspended midway because of the Covid-19 restrictions, Khare said the government was ready with an alternative academic calendar.
As soon as the lockdown is lifted, he added, the government would start preparations to conduct the exams that had to be postponed. “We have an alternative calendar for board exams ready with us and, as soon as the lockdown is lifted, we will go ahead with the exams,” he said. “According to our calendar, we are ready to conduct exams from 1 May, if the lockdown is lifted by 14 April.”
While the board exams were postponed, students of most other classes had either written all their papers by 15 March or were promoted to the next class without any examination. As the closure of schools kicked in much before the national lockdown, states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand decided to promote students to the next academic session without exams.
The government-run Kendriya Vidyalayas also issued instructions on 24 March that students up to Class 8 be promoted to the next class.
“Most states have already promoted their students to the next class. The ones that have not are doing it gradually. They are all making some arrangement,” Khare said.