Thousands of UAE pupils affected as India cancels CBSE exams

Grade 10 tests called off and Grade 12 exams postponed

Schools students attend a class at a private school as the schools reopened after almost 11 months of break due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in Kolkata on February 12, 2021. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP)
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Thousands of Indian curriculum pupils in the UAE will not sit summer exams this year.

The decision by officials in New Delhi affects all grade 10 pupils studying the CBSE curriculum.

Grade 12 pupils also had their exams postponed for the second time this year due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

The decision was taken as Indian prime minister Narendra Modi called a coronavirus crisis meeting. Infections have surged in India, with more than 180,000 new cases recorded within 24 hours.

There has been a lot of agitation among pupils and parents. These are high-stakes exams

Lalitha Suresh, principal of Gems Our Own Indian School in Dubai, said school leavers in Grade 12 would be worried by the decision.

"The grade 12 examination is important for getting admission into good universities," she said.

"A delay in these exams could impact the motivation of students."

Her school has already run internal assessments and two mock exams to ensure it has data on each pupil's performance.

The Central Board of Secondary Education Examinations are conducted in grades 10 and 12, and are the Indian equivalent of GCSEs and A levels.

Class 10 pupils will be awarded grades based on criteria set by the board. Many governments have taken the decision to assess pupils, including school leavers applying for university places, based entirely on coursework.

Grade 10 exams were due to run from May 4 to June 14. Exams for grade 12 pupils were due to start in early May.

Authorities will review the decision in June and pupils will be given 15 days' notice if they will restart.

Exams have been push back several times due to the pandemic.

The majority of Indian schools in the Emirates follow the CBSE curriculum, with thousands of pupils appearing for CBSE examinations each year.

At least 80,000 pupils in Dubai attend Indian curriculum schools.

Rashmi Nandkeolyar, principal of Delhi Private School Dubai, told The National that teachers were gearing up to grade hundreds of pupils.

More than 200 pupils in grade 10 and 12 at her school were due to sit exams in May.

"We were anticipating this decision. In India the numbers are very alarming right now," she said.

"There has been a lot of agitation among pupils and parents. These are high-stakes exams, with pupils using these grades to get into universities in India and abroad."

Ms Nandkeolyar said grade 10 pupils would be affected less, given they have two more years of school ahead.

She had hoped exams for pupils in the UAE could have gone ahead, even if they were called off in India.

"In the UAE, the pandemic is largely controlled and the number of Covid-19 cases has gone down," she said.

"The space is available so we would have been able to manage the exams, had these gone ahead."

Despite the disruption, she said even universities outside India were already recognising teacher-based assessments for admission, which she said was encouraging.