CBSE political science paper a cause for concern

New Delhi: More than changes in any other paper, political science seems to be worrying students and teachers most. Students who've written their pre-board and mock exams in the older 35-question pattern are concerned about what the changes mean for their time-management strategies.
"We've been conditioned to write the 35-questions papers," says a 12th-grade humanities student who discovered there are changes from a report published a few days ago. "I have trained myself to finish the one and two-mark questions in half-and-hour. You have to think more and write more for the long answers. Those who struggled to complete the old paper will never finish this one." "This is an absolutely different format altogether," says Hema Chakraborty, student at The Indian School, "It takes time just to get into the groove of it."

Schools don't agree on whether the Central Board of Secondary Education informed them in time or not. Ameeta Mulla Wattal, principal, Springdales School, Pusa Road, says the changes were announced in the "Highlights of Curriculum Document 2014-15 for the examination to be held in March, 2015" dated, June 6, 2014. "The circular's been out for nine months. Schools should keep checking the CBSE website and not wait for paper copies to arrive," says Mulla-Wattal. Vandana Chandoke and Abha Malik who teach the subject at Delhi Public School, RK Puram and Sanskriti respectively, say they've been setting 27-question papers since 2013.

CBSE officials have mentioned the curriculum document online but the circulars in hardcopy didn't reach everyone. Chandoke confirms she didn't receive a circular in hardcopy but saw changes online. Tania Joshi, principal, The Indian School, says she learnt of the changes in December - when the sample papers were issued. "The change in the history syllabus was announced a year ago. But we didn't get any circular for political science," says Joshi. "I do tele-counselling for the CBSE and had a student from Jharkhand called who didn't have a clue. I was able to counsel because I teach the subject."

"The CBSE is forgetting that every CBSE school in the country doesn't have internet connection and not every part of the country has a reliable supply of electricity," adds another principal, of a prominent central Delhi school, who'd asked her teachers to change tack after the summer vacations (of 2014) "on a hunch." Once the sample papers arrived and the "hunch" was confirmed, a text message was sent out to students to alert them to the changes. "I happened to tell teachers to expect changes after the summer vacations. I told them there's a document and I perceive some changes. The sample papers came only in December. Changes should not be made mid-session irrespective of the type of changes. Teachers plan delivery of the lessons in advance. A group of 12 schools had requested the [former] chairman of the CBSE not to make changes mid-session."

And the changes are major even for those who've known of them since 2013. The number of questions has been reduced from 35 to 27 and the marks distribution for the paper is now thus: one mark (questions 1 to 5); two marks (6 to 10); four (11 to 16); five (17 to 21) and six (22 to 27). "The political science paper is a 100-mark one so there are no practical?s or projects. And now there are fewer one and two-markers. If you make the paper too subjective, students who have understood but have limited vocabulary or find it difficult to express themselves will not be able to do well in these. Earlier they could get marks writing single sentences. Then there is greater emphasis on maps but no map list," explains Chandoke.
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