Mumbai: As the class 10 secondary school certificate (SSC) examinations return to the pre-Covid norms, city schools are faced with a distinct challenge: getting students to write for three hours at a stretch.
While studies like the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2022 have documented the decline in reading and maths levels of school-going children during the pandemic, the schools also found them to be severely lacking in writing - a key skill for the state board's pen-and-paper subjective tests for class 10. With the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Examination (MSBSHSE) withdrawing all the concessions given last year, including a home centre for exams, reduced syllabus and additional time, finishing the papers on time has become a daunting task for many, said the teachers.
Less than adequate writing practice a hurdle
According to school heads, most of the students didn't get sufficient writing practice when schools switched from physical classrooms to digital modes of teaching for almost two years since Covid broke out in March 2020. "The biggest challenge we are facing is that the students are not able to write and complete the paper on time. Their writing process has gone for a toss... Many of them get tired after writing for an hour or so," said Sangeeta Srivastava, Principal of The Kandivli Education Society's SVPV Vidyalaya, Kandivali. "Everyone is good at typing, but they give up when asked to write," she added.
Anjuman-I-Islam’s Allana English High School at Fort is also grappling with this issue. "The students didn't get much writing practice when the school was shut, as there were no notebooks to be filled," said Rizwana Satare, Principal of the school.
New measures in place for SSC Board Exams 2023
To make matters more difficult, the state board on Saturday announced doing away with the practice of giving question papers to students 10 minutes before the exam time. "Those 10 minutes were very precious and we had taught students how to take advantage of them. But we are now calling them back to school during their preparatory leave to brief them about this new development," said Srivastava.
The schools are taking several measures to ensure that the students are adequately trained in writing before they enter the exam halls for their first-ever board test on March 2. While most schools are conducting extensive mock tests, some held special workshops and classes to improve writing skills.
"Post-Covid our students' writing speed has slowed down to a great extent. Hence, we organised workshops where they were assigned writing practice. We also encourage them to write as many past papers at home as possible, even if that means copying answers from textbooks. This way, they will not learn their answers, but will also improve their pace and stamina of writing," said Sudhir Ghagas, Head Master, Padmashri Annasaheb Jadhav Vidyalaya, Bhiwandi.
The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)-run Tilak Nagar Hindi School in Chembur has carried out multiple mock tests. "Students need to practice as they have lost their habit of writing during the past 2-3 years," said the school Principal Gulabdas Achutra.
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