When news first came of board exams in Class 5 and 8 in CISCE schools, many thought it was fake. But disbelief of parents and students turned to horror with the confirmation that from 2018, CISCE will take board exams in Class 5 and 8 as well as 10.
Mr Gerry Arathoon, CISCE CEO, apparently tried to soften the blow when he announced the decision in Kolkata on Wednesday. He did not call them board exams but assessments. .
"Assessments," he said, "will be held in class 5 and 8. This assessment will be different. Students will not need preparation. It will not require students to recall what they have learnt. Instead, it will be an assessment of how students can creative apply their knowledge and skills acquired."
For students, already staggering under obese school bags, this is a bad news. Parents are stunned. Rupinder Singh, whose daughter is six and a half and studies in a prominent Kolkata school, said, "Her school bag is already so heavy. Now the stress of a board exam in three years. Its too bad."
Bangalore's Dipannita Biswas, mother of a class one son, is appalled. "So the rat race will begin from even earlier than before. This is not a good time to be a parent. Nor a student."
Educationists often say it is competitive parents who stress out their children about exams. Sister Cyril, a Padmashree awardee, who was the Principal of Loreto Sealdah in Kolkata said, "The children will suffer. Especially as competitive parents will put them under pressure from the start of school."
Ms Noni Khullar, principal of Akshar School which has made something of a mark by ensuring 20 per cent of its students are specially-abled and minimizing exam pressure, is confident Mr Gerry Arathoon had good reasons to decide on early board exams.
"I don't like the idea of board exams. But I think they are calling it evaluation or something. I am waiting for details. The decision must have something to do with a new curriculum that ICSE is starting from 2017 itself," she said. The board exams or assessments will take place in 2018.
Like Ms Khullar, ICSE students and their parents want summer holidays to end so they can seek a rethink on the extra and early board exams. Or be told the news was indeed fake.
CISCE board conducts ICSE (class 10) and ISC (class 12) exams.