No public exams for classes 5, 8; plan postponed by three years: TN minister

Chennai: In an announcement which could bring a huge sigh of relief to students and parents, State School Education Minister K A Sengottaiyan today said that the implementation of the proposed board exams for classes five and eight would be postponed by three years.

Speaking at an event in Erode, Sengottaiyan said as per the Centre’s Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, it becomes mandatory to hold board exams for fifth standard and eight standard students across the country.

“However, Tamilnadu has been granted exemption for three years. This is an opportunity to improve the skills of our students. The present system will continue for three more years,” he added.

The State government had announced the introduction of these exams 13 Friday. The School Education department has been mulling over the introduction of these exams for close to a year now and a proposal for the same was even made in the recently drafted National Education Policy of the Centre.

According to a circular issued in February to all district education offices, the question paper for these exams will be common across schools in Tamilnadu. As of now, schools following the Samacheer Kalvi syllabus in Tamilnadu have the liberty of setting question papers till class 9 within the school itself. The syllabus for the exams will be the portion taught in the third term, with general questions taken from the portion taught in the first and second term. As per the memo, each paper will be for 60 marks and will be held for two hours.

An amendment to the Right to Education (RTE) Act in 2018 allowed schools to detain students in classes 5 and 8. Until this, the RTE Act didn’t allow detention, and students between class 1 and class 8 could go to the next grade without having to pass the exams.

However, there have been arguments in favour of the public exam and the benefits it could have in training students for class 10 and 12 exams. It was in a similar move in 2017 that the Tamilnadu government introduced board exams for class 11. The reason cited for this was the importance of class 11 syllabus for competitive exams. Many schools allegedly skipped the portion for class 11 altogether and focused only on class 12 to push their students to secure State-level ranks in board exams.

NT Bureau