An assessment test was conducted for the students on October 15 and a circular containing instructions for schools was sent out on November 6. “All the heads of government schools must have divided the students of Class IX in three groups on the basis of the assessment test,” says the circular. The principal of a government schools that has still not divided the classes says this will pose a “big problem”. They have nine sections in Class IX with over 450 students. Once divided into groups according to ability—low, middle, high—the number of sections will triple.
“We have trained graduate teachers for Classes VI-X. We’ll have to see how we’ll assign classes. One way is to convert every class’ timetable to a six-period one. But what will the physical education, library and drawing teachers do?” says the principal of a boys’ school that runs in the evening shift.
So far, only the postgraduate teachers have engaged in “block teaching”.
The DoE circular tells schools to “amend the timetable for block teaching i.e. total six periods of 50 minutes duration each day”. Typically, a school day has eight periods but, as the principal says, library and other such classes will be on hold. The circular also says, “Weekly syllabus restriction is relaxed for these subjects.”
“The six subjects are mathematics, English, Hindi, social science, science and Sanskrit,” says a principal. For November, instructors will be provided downloaded lessons online; by December, printed books will be available. “All government school heads are directed to involve school management committee members for the smooth and successful conduct of the programme and also discuss the importance of it,” says the circular.
The enrichment programme for English, Hindi, mathematics, on which the kids were tested, will run into the winter vacations too and classes will be held from January 1-5, 2016.
“Many kids come to Class IX without having learnt anything. Till 2014, they were passing Class IX and X on the strength of their marks in the formative assessments (a part of the continuous comprehensive evaluation). When they made scoring a minimum of 25% in summative assessmentscompulsory, thousands failed. This is to ensure they at least learn something,” he says.