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Haryana Board Directive on Class VIII Examinations Causes Stress and Fear Among Students

As per the state government's order, dated February 4, all Government and private schools will have to register themselves with the Haryana board to conduct classes V and VIII exams before February 20.
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The Board of School Education Haryana's (BSEH) recently released a notice, directing all government and private schools to hold annual board exams for all Class V and VIII students, irrespective of the education board they are affiliated to. The decision has caused chaos and confusion among school administrations, students, and parents.

As per the state government's order, dated February 4, all Government and private schools will have to register themselves with the Haryana board to conduct classes V and VIII exams before February 20.

The notice stated, "SCERT Haryana (Gurugram) being the 'Academic Authority' has been assigned the task of introducing regular examinations for the evaluation of students studying in classes V & VIII of all government and recognised private schools situated in the state at the end of each academic year."

While the exams will be held for classes V and VIII in the future, they will be held only for class VIII this year, stated the order. "All students studying in the government and recognised private schools situated in Haryana need to pass class VIII annual examination conducted by the Board of School Education in Haryana (BSEH) for admission to class IX," the order said. Another circular was issued on January 28 that highlighted that examinations for Classes V and VIII would take place annually. It stated that the examination would be conducted based on NCERT/SCERT books.

Speaking to NewsClick on the condition of anonymity, the parent of an eighth-grader from The Shri Ram School, Gurgram, said, "We found out about this decision through the Parent-Teacher Association on Tuesday, February 15. This decision taken by the state education department is inhumane." The students of the school, which follows the ICSE curriculum, are in the middle of their final examinations at the moment.

She added, "This has come as such a shock to us; it's cruel to put the children through this after two years of attending online school. We have now hired a team of lawyers and are ready to take this matter to court."

Speaking to NewsClick, the principal of a school in Gurugram, Haryana, said on the condition of anonymity, "This move is completely inhuman and outrageous. The children are extremely stressed and upset. They have less than a month to prepare for these examinations. Our school does not follow NCERT books; hence, the children are not familiar with the prescribed syllabus. They will have to prepare from scratch, and the government has barely given us any time.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the CISCE have also expressed disapproval against the order. CBSE has sought the intervention of the Ministry of Education (MoE) and has also written a letter to the Haryana government expressing their disagreement with the decision.

On February 9, school associations filed a petition in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, seeking a stay on the state government's order. The court heard the matter for the first time on February 10 and refused to grant a stay order. The next hearing is scheduled for April 4, 2022. However, the court has issued notices to the Department of School Education, the State Council of Educational Research and Training, and the BSEH. Meanwhile, the state government has asked all government and private schools to register themselves with the Haryana board to conduct class V and VIII exams; February 20 is the last date. The government is preparing to conduct the examinations in late March.

On Wednesday, private schools' associations spoke to the media. They said that the primary objective of the Board of School Education Haryana (BSEH) behind holding Class VIII board exams was to fill the empty coffers by charging high fees.

"The BSEH has fixed Rs 5,000 per school registration fee and Rs 550 examination fee. There are about 2,000 private schools in the state and nearly 4.5 lakh students. So, the BSEH will make around Rs 25 crore in a single stroke," representatives of private schools' associations said in a news conference. "At the core of the board's decision to hold compulsory examination of Class VIII is to earn money which is not acceptable to schools and parents," they added.

The parent of another student of The Shri Ram School told NewsClick,

"The children are scared and extremely stressed. They have only just returned to schools after a gap of two years, and the state government has thrown this at them. There is no way they can prepare for examinations that have a syllabus different from what they have studied throughout the year. We do not know what to tell them, how to console them."

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