Dubai: Schools following Indian curricula in UAE are hopeful that board exams will start on time, with authorities in India expected to make an announcement soon.
So far, no date-sheet has been released for Class 10 and 12 final exams for the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), India’s largest school board, which also has dozens of affiliated schools in the UAE. Meanwhile, there is speculation that the exams may be delayed as most schools in India still remain closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, India’s federal Education Minister, is scheduled to go live on Twitter to talk about board exams, with students invited to share their concerns with him. There is expectation that an announcement on the exams dates will follow within days after that online event.
This year, some CBSE grade 10 and 12 board exams were delayed and, for schools outside India, eventually cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. CBSE has more than 21,270 affiliated schools in India and more than 220 schools in some 25 foreign countries — including around 78 in the UAE. Last academic year, there were roughly 9,500 CBSE students in grade 10 in the UAE and about 6,500 in grade 12, although official figures are not readily available.
Still 'premature to comment'
For board exams in 2021, Indian schools in the UAE are not leaving anything to chance in terms of covering the syllabus and preparing for the tests. Michael Guzder, vice-president — Education, GEMS Education, said: “As of now, there is tremendous speculation about the examinations being postponed. There is no official communication from the board yet and hence it will be premature to comment. However, we were in a similar predicament last year and the board did well to come up with a solution that we at GEMS Education worked with accordingly. Once again we will wait and abide by what the board decides.”
Guzder added: “Schools are going full-steam ahead and nothing is being left to chance so fas as syllabus completion, revision and mock tests, etc are concerned.”
Deepika Thapar Singh, CEO-principal, Credence High School, Dubai, said based on the current situation in India, she expects the exams will be postponed by at least a month. “If the exams are delayed, then students will get more time to prepare. Otherwise, it will be difficult for students living in rural areas [in India] to prepare for the exams as stable internet connectivity is a hindrance for these students,” Singh added.
Can schools ‘self-centre’?
Professor M. Abu Bakr, principal, Scholars Indian School, Ras Al Khaimah, said it is possible core exams will begin in March after practical exams and electives in February. “In India, going to a test centre to write the board exams is the question, because of the COVID-19 situation and needs precautions like social distancing, which reduces the capacity of test centres. If schools can ‘self-centre’, have their students write the exam within their own school, that will make it easier for students,” Prof Abu Bakr said. He did not foresee any issue in the UAE with regards to writing the board exams because all the necessary arrangements are in place here.
What about CISCE?
There is also concern that board exams under the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), another major education board in India, with a few affiliated schools in the UAE, may also be delayed.
Sheela Menon, principal, Ambassador School, Dubai, said: “Taking into consideration the current scenario in India and the probable delay in the exams, it will majorly affect the grade 12 students if they lose out on the [application] deadlines given by the universities for their higher education. However, we are providing students with their academic transcripts and predictive scores. The school has conducted on-campus pre-board examinations for ICSE [grade 10] and ISC [grade 12] to validate the scores.”
Menon added that all the school’s students will be ready for the on-time board exams, though she affirmed that the school has not yet received any formal communication from CISCE regarding the 2021 board exam dates.