In his exclusive interview to the Press, Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal has opined that State Governments are free to develop their own academic calender and assessment schedule.They can choose when and how to have the summer vacation, after a careful consideration of the locally prevalent situation. Even with the availability of online learning portals, CBSE will evaluate the loss of classroom teaching due to COVID-19 pandemic for an equivalent reduction in curriculum load for the academic year 2020-21.
Presently, MHRD has not issued any guidelines for advancing the summer vacations. It has given ultimate freedom to the State Governments to decide their own schedule based on local factors. It has formed a special task force under NCERT to do an extensive research on issues such as academic calender and examinations which would submit its reports soon. Inline with this, course committees of the board have started work on identifying areas for reduction of syllabus.
Anxious parents have been reaching out to the MHRD and the CBSE asking for clarification on the declaration of summer vacation in schools. Officials have given clarity on this regard by reiterating the fact that summer vacations will be decided by the respective State Governments and CBSE schools in different states will abide by it. The HRD Minister also stressed the fact that MHRD will try its best to make sure that there is minimal academic loss to the students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
MHRD has created a separate division for online learning which will be headed by the additional Secretary. Officers will be appointed to work exclusively on online education. To bridge any gap in going digital, MHRD has tied up with I&B ministry to air SWAYAM PRABHA channels on digital platforms. It has also formulated a task force under UGC to explore the scope of conductng online exams for higher education and guidelines would be issued based on the reports.
On answering a question on availability of textbooks post lockdown, the Minister replied that they are printed and ready for distribution, whenever the schools reopened. An alternative academic calender is also ready and an e-version of the textbooks is available on E-Pathashala.