Schools await notification on annual examinations

Yangchen C Rinzin 

Normally, schools across the country at this time would be gearing up for examinations and the schools would have received exam time table. However, this year they are uncertain when the exams would be.

Classes X and XII were re-opened from September 14 after the nationwide lockdown and a week later Classes IX and XI resumed. 

The 2020 academic session for Classes PP-VIII continued online and will complete by November. The education ministry would then announce enrolment for new students in Class PP subsequently. 

Official from education ministry earlier reported in mainstream media saying that the board and home exams were postponed to March. The trial exam for classes X and XII, they said, would be also postponed and exams for classes IX and XI would be in February. 

Many principals from both public and private schools, however, said that they have not received any official notification from the education ministry or the Bhutan Council for School Examinations and Assessment (BCSEA).

This according to school authorities was unprecedented given that every major change in the school system only takes effect through a formal notification from the ministry.

So far teachers said that they have heard and read in the mainstream media about possible board examinations in March and in February for Classes IX and XI. 

“There is no formal intimation from the authorities,” a principal in Trashigang said.

“Usually, we would receive the time table by now and will be preparing for the examinations. But we don’t know what’s happening this time,” another principal said.  

Teachers shared that they have received notification from BCSEA on the board examinations before lockdown where it was supposed to start from December 1 until 12. 

“But there is no clarity or formal letter that we can base and prepare for the exam. We don’t even know when it’s going to start,” a principal in Wangdue said. 

Another principal in Punakha said, “Since we’ve time if it’s really happening in March, I’ve asked teachers to keep teaching. We’ll wait for the ministry’s directives.”

Education Minister Jai Bir Rai earlier told Kuensel that given the disruption to the academic session due to Covid-19 and lockdown, time would not be enough for the completion of the syllabus in two months. 

“We’ve lost teaching-learning time. We’ve to give students enough time to complete the curriculum to attend the exam,” he had said. 

Which is why Lyonpo said that trial exams could take place whenever possible but a board examination would take place in March. “Maybe, for the home exam, we can conduct at least a week ahead of the board exam.”

Lyonpo had said that ministry would inform BCSEA when to prepare questions and conduct the exams.

Officiating director general of school education, Kinley Gyeltshen said that the notification at the ministry level was ready.  He said that the note sheet has been approved for the notice.  

“The note sheet, which has all the details about the reopening of schools, examination date and school breaks is ready. We’ll definitely issue the notification to all schools and BCSEA soon.”

Kinley Gyeltshen said that the ministry could not issue the notification officially due to other urgent works. 

However, BCSEA in an earlier notification issued on September 18 have asked all students to register for the examinations. 

Prioritised curriculum was applied since re-opening of Classes X and XII. The adapted curriculum was applied for Classes PP-VIII and IX and XI. Classes PP-VIII will remain closed for 2020 academic session and continue to learn through the adapted curriculum.

The adapted curriculum is a thematic curriculum or different stages based on the Education in Emergency (EIE) I that engaged students through television, radio and Self-Instructional Materials as schools remained closed.

A prioritised curriculum, based on EIE II, is a distilled curriculum that comprises procedural knowledge, skills, values, strategies and processes.

According to the prioritised curriculum, exams were supposed to start with practical from mid-November and theory from the end of November.

BCSEA will prepare questions based on the prioritised curriculum. The respective subject teacher will have to conduct viva voce and project work validation to avoid movement of teachers. SUPW grading will be based on the class IX and XI SUPW respectively for Classes X and XII.

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