UAE Indian school pupils given option to take end-of-year exam

The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations says pupils have a week to decide how they wish to be assessed

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 07 FEBRUARY 2018. KHDA announced the results of the annual inspections of the Indian and Pakistani private schools. Gems Modern Academy is the only Indian curriculum school to have earned an Outstanding rating in the latest round of private schools inspections in Dubai. Principal Nargish Khambatta with year 4 students in the Budhayana Spark Lab. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Roberta Pennington. Section: National.
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Pupils at some Indian curriculum schools in the UAE have been given the choice to sit a final year exam or be graded based on tests they completed earlier in the year.

The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations postponed ICSE and ISC examinations, the Indian equivalent of GCSE and A-levels, in March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Some of the exams were held as planned in early March but others were postponed.

For pupils who have not performed as well as they expected to in their pre-boards, this is perhaps a welcome opportunity to improve

This week, the council said pupils in India and abroad could now choose to sit the remaining examinations at some point in July. Alternatively, pupils can elect to be graded on their internal school exams and pre-board examinations that were held previously.

Schools typically set pre-board examinations that are often much harder for pupils to prepare them for the final examinations. In most cases, pupils will score much higher in the final examinations than in their mock exams.

Pupils have time until June 22 to choose an option.

Nargish Khambatta, Principal of Gems Modern Academy, an ICSE curriculum school in Dubai, said each pupil at the school would be given time to make their decision.

“For pupils who have not performed as well as they expected to in their pre-boards, this is perhaps a welcome opportunity to improve. For pupils who have already travelled, it proffers a silver lining, as they will now have a choice. For the large majority, however, it will be a call to take," said Ms Khambatta.

She said Dubai's private school regulator, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, and the Ministry of Education had put precautions in place to allow pupils to sit exams while still adhering to social distancing and safety requirements.

"Principals are in touch to help organise invigilators for each other’s schools. Our pupils are being coached by the teachers and are prepared for the exams. We are taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety of our pupils appearing for exams," said Ms Khambatta.

Heads of schools in the UAE said they were expecting exact exam dates to be confirmed later this week. Schools will have closed by July but principals have said they will reopen for any pupils who wish to sit the exams.

Ms Sheela Menon, principal at Ambassador School, an Indian curriculum school in Dubai, said she has told pupils that they will need to make their decision by next week.

“Even if a few pupils want to appear for the examinations, we will make the arrangements," she said.

“Some pupils have already finished their exams but all pupils in grade 10 have some exams left.”

The school has created a risk management plan and has received guidelines for conducting exams from KHDA.

Pupils will have to maintain social distancing, undergo temperature checks, not share stationary and walk through a sanitising disinfectant tunnel to enter the school.

Clear signage indicating the safety rules and stickers to mark safe distances must be set up.

The Central Board of Secondary Education in India, which operates the CBSE curriculum, also postponed examinations, which were to be held in March.

Almost 80,000 pupils study at Indian curriculum schools in Dubai, most of which follow the CBSE curriculum.