UAE students get break, India’s CBSE cuts 30% syllabus


Dubai: Thousands of CBSE students in the UAE will study a 30 per cent shorter syllabus this academic year as part of a “big respite” announced on Tuesday in the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education), India’s largest school board, tweeted it has reduced some topics to cover in the 2020/21 academic year, which started in April for CBSE-affiliated schools.

It closely followed a series of tweets on Tuesday by Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (@DrRPNishank), India’s Union Cabinet Minister for Human Resource Development, who said “it has been decided to rationalize syllabus up to 30% by retaining the core concepts”.

CBSE is an autonomous organisation under India’s Union Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Affected grades, exams

The change applies to grades nine through 12, for which the reduced syllabus “will not be part of the topics for Internal Assessment and year-end Board Examination,” CBSE said in a circular to heads of CBSE-affiliated schools.

The circular was tweeted by CBSE on its official account, @cbseindia29, adding that the pandemic “has resulted in the loss of classroom teaching due to the closure of schools.”

Dr Nishank had also tweeted, “Looking at the extraordinary situation prevailing in the country and the world, #CBSE was advised to revise the curriculum and reduce course load for the students of Class 9th to 12th…”

This year, some CBSE grade 10 and 12 board exams were delayed and eventually cancelled because of the pandemic.

Details of the deleted portions of this school year’s curriculum have been uploaded via links on a CBSE webpage.

CBSE has more than 21,270 affiliated schools in India and over 220 schools in 25 foreign countries – including 78 in the UAE. There are roughly 9,500 CBSE students in grade 10 in the UAE and about 6,500 in grade 12.

CBSE board exams for grade 10 and 12, taken by millions of students annually, are widely regarded as the most important school exams in India and CBSE-affiliated schools outside India.

‘Much-needed relief’

UAE school leaders welcomed the move, which some quarters had been expecting.

“This reduction is good for students as they felt burdened in the higher classes, especially by grade 12 science subjects. We used to get feedback from students about the vastness of the subjects,” said Professor M Abu Bakr, principal of Scholars Indian School, Ras Al Khaihmah.

He added that the news comes as “much-needed relief” in the time of the pandemic, which had seen students confined to home because of movement restrictions and school closures.

Rafia Zafar Ali, principal of Leaders Private School, Sharjah, also said the lighter study load brings “great relief” for students, “especially as they have been studying under so much pressure”.

She added, “The children were studying under a very stressful situation in the pandemic, sitting at home, not going out.”

‘Judiciously done’

Another principal said the news was “not totally unexpected” as CBSE “had been giving us confidence they will look into the syllabus”.

The principal added, “We had to look at the long-term picture, after the pandemic is over. The worry was, will the student be prepared, under the reduced syllabus, for college? Many of the students will have to appear for tough entrance exams after school.

“I think the revision has been done very judiciously by CBSE, taking into account both the time frame and transition to higher education. The relevant portions will still be covered; some chapters and topics that are not so relevant have been removed.”

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