The late start to academic year, delay in getting textbooks have made it challenging to complete syllabus

If most of the conversations at home and school are centred on grades and admissions, you know public examinations are not too far.

Most schools have started holding extra classes and revision tests to help students brush up lessons. “Slow learners” are being given special coaching . At homes, many families have disconnected cable TV connections for a few months – all in the hope that children concentrate better and perform well. The State Board X examination is scheduled to start on April 4.

State Board students have more reasons to be anxious this year. With a new syllabus as per the Samacheer Kalvi initiative and the first common exam under that it is a testing time for 10,75,649 students of four steams – SSLC., OSLC., Matriculation and Anglo-Indian – who will take the examination. The late start to the academic year and delay in getting textbooks made it challenging for teacher to complete the syllabus.

At TTV Higher Secondary School, Sowcarpet, the entire morning session is dedicated to one subject while regular classes are conducted post-noon. “In the evening, we take up two hours of special classes for students,” says S. Balasubramani, Principal of the school. Most schools offer snacks comprising biscuits and sundal when students stay back for study classes. “We have divided the students into three groups and are intensively working with the weak students to make sure they too pass,” he says.

The Directorate of School Education has taken various initiatives to ensure schools are adequately oriented to the new exam pattern. It recently brought out model question papers based on the new syllabus. To improve the pass percentage of the district, the Chief Educational Officer has been instructed to collect details of students who failed in one, two and three subjects in the half-yearly examination from the headmasters of schools. These students would be offered extra coaching. “To help slow learners, a module with 20-25 pages, with expected questions has been designed. It has separate modules for every subject and it has been sent to schools,” said an official.

Introduction of practical examination, for the first time, is expected to make it easier for students to score well in science. The practical examination would be for 25 marks. But, not all schools have laboratory facilities. At least 20 government schools in the district are without any such laboratory facilities and they have been asked to conduct classes in the nearest school that has such a facility.

Providing choice

For class X students in the CBSE stream, the choice of appearing for the Board examination has considerably reduced stress, according to school principals. In several schools, there is an increase in the number of students opting for the school-based examination, as compared to last year.

According to C. Sathiamoorthy, Principal, Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Kilpauk, there is a nearly 15 per cent increase in the number of students taking the school-based 10 examination this year. “Students and parents realise that you get the same certificate from the Board for either of the examinations. Unless one wishes to go to another State, there is no reason that students would want to take the Board examination anymore,” he says.

However, students feel that the experience of taking a Board examination can be useful. “I was not sure if I would switch to State Board after class X. A Board examination would provide a back up, I think,” says Aarthe Jayaprakash, a class X student in the CBSE stream. The Board-based examination is scheduled to begin on March 1.

Preparations are no different for students taking the class XII examination, which would start from March 8 for State Board students and from March 1 for CBSE students. As V. Priya, a student of Presidency Girls Higher Secondary School, Egmore, says: “For 12 class students every mark counts while seeking admission in engineering or even arts and science colleges.”

Observing that the examinations will make an impact on one's career choices, S. Varun Rajagopal, class XII student at Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan Senior Secondary School, says it is all about time management. “There is a lot of pressure, no doubt. There is lot to do and too little time. You have to prepare for the Boards, and also attend coaching classes for entrance examination. The only way to manage it is to allocate time for different tasks and systematically follow that schedule. That's what I am trying to do,” he says.

(With inputs from Meera Srinivasan, Liffy Thomas and Lavanya.M)

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