Karnataka will announce the dates for Class X State Board Exams on 18 May. This was decided after Karnataka Primary and Secondary Education minister S Suresh Kumar held a series of meetings with all stakeholders. A committee has also been formed to go into what kind of changes the academic year 2020-21 will need to incorporate inside the school classrooms.
T S Sudhir of Filter Kaapi Live spoke to Suresh Kumar for this exclusive interview.
T S Sudhir : As many as 8.5 lakh students are waiting eagerly to know when their class X Karnataka State Board exams will be conducted. Has any decision been taken on it?
Suresh Kumar : We will announce the dates of the Karnataka State Board Class X exams on Monday, 18 May. Over the past many days, I have spoken to University professors, senior education department officials, high school teachers and also MLCs who represent Teachers and Graduates constituencies. I have spoken to several people who work at the grassroots.
I also sought the opinion of students. All the exams of class X are pending as they were to start from 27 March and as you know Sudhir, the lockdown began from 25 March. I asked the students – Do you really want the exams? I told them we have promoted everyone from class 1 to 9 to the next class and offered to do the same with class 10 students.
But their response was that we have studied very hard for an entire year. Many of them told me they do not want to live with the tag of `Corona Promoted Students’ all their life.
So we have finally decided to conduct the exams in the second and third week of June. The exact time table will be out on 18 May. We will increase the number of exam centres. Earlier 24 students would sit in one room at an exam centre, that number will now be reduced to 16 or 18.
Sudhir : What about class 12 students of the Karnataka State Board?
Suresh Kumar : Class 12 students have only English Exam pending. We are thinking of allowing them to write their exam at any centre near their place of residence. Many of them study in other towns and districts and we do not want students to travel only for one exam.
We tried doing that for Class X SSC students too but it is logistically difficult. The specific number of question papers are lying safely in the district treasury strong rooms.
Sudhir : All the other south Indian states, like Karnataka, too plan to conduct the exams. However, states in the north like Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Chhattisgarh have decided to shelve the exams. The two national boards – CBSE and ICSE/ISC – have said they will conduct the exams. Will there be any coordination with your education ministry on how feasible it will be for CBSE and ICSE to conduct the exams in Karnataka?
Suresh Kumar : As far as the two national board exams are concerned, they are the masters. They have their own systems.
Sudhir : Let us now come to the next academic year 2020-21. How different is the school classroom likely to be?
Suresh Kumar : We have formed a committee that will recommend on when is the ideal time to start the academic session. How much syllabus should be reduced if we get delayed by 15 days, how much to cut if we get delayed by a month and so on. We are also examining what should be the pattern of classes, whether school batches should operate in two shifts or on alternate days.
The Union HRD ministry too is working on a timetable for 2020-21 so we will study that as well.
Sudhir : And if things get back on track, I suppose we would have a curtailed Dussehra and winter break.
Suresh Kumar : Yes. In fact, when I spoke to teachers, they said they were even willing to work full day on Saturday and ready to have a shortened Dussehra and winter vacation.
Sudhir : Most private schools have been conducting online classes. Has digital education been a challenge for the 53000 government schools in Karnataka?
Suresh Kumar : Yes. It has been difficult because most schools and students do not have access to equipment. So for class 10 students, we are using the DD Chandana (Kannada channel) to conduct revision classes. We started with Kannada medium but now after much demand, we have begun for English medium as well. The Doordarshan Director told me this programme gets the highest ratings on their channel. Now we have asked for our own channel which we can use for educational purpose and then we can extend it to all classes.
Sudhir : Recently a survey that was conducted showed that even when schools reopen, parents would be apprehensive about sending their students. How would you allay those concerns and fears?
Suresh Kumar : I have told the parents that they are not your children, they are my children. No decision will be taken that is against their interests.
Sudhir : Reports of LKG, UKG students in private schools being subjected to online classes in Karnataka too has caused concern.
Suresh Kumar : I really cannot understand this Sudhir. LKG, UKG students have to play, why subject them to online classes. We have to put an end to this and have a movement against irrational method of online teaching.