Diabetics To Be Allowed Mid-Exam Snack

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New Delhi: Here is news that should cheer students with Type-1 diabetes and put a smile on the faces of their anxious parents. The Central Board of Secondary Education has decided, in principle, to allow students appearing for Class X and XII board exams in March and April this year to take a break for a mid-exam snack.

Type-1 diabetic patients, who depend on two to four insulin injections every day to keep their sugar levels balanced, are advised not to have too long a break between snacks. Else, the low sugar level will lead to them having a headache and suffering from irritability, restlessness and confusion.

CBSE will soon notify that diabetic students will be allowed a snack break during exams, an hour or 90 minutes from the commencement of the test. It is also likely to advise school principals to start a similar practice in their institutions, as is done in the United States.
“We are working out the details,” announced RK Chaturvedi, chairman, CBSE, on Friday. “We will probably issue a detailed circular on the matter in the coming week.”

The relief to the diabetic students was considered by the education board after Dr Ashok Jhingan, chairperson of the Delhi Diabetes Research Centre, approached it to consider the problem. He buttressed his request with the results from a study in four Kendriya Vidyalayas that had allowed its students with Type-1 diabetes to have a mid exam snack.

According to Jhingan, there are four lakh children with Type-1 diabetes in the country, around 14,000 of them in Delhi-NCR. “These children need insulin half an hour before eating, which means between 6.30 am and 7.30 am,” the doctor said. “In schools, the students generally are allowed a light snack after two hours to prevent their sugar level falling. This is because the regular class breaks usually take place at 11 am, around three hours after school starts. Without the snack between 9am and 10am, their sugar level could drop, leaving them irritable and unable to concentrate on their studies.”

Even students who otherwise do well academically through the year face problems at exam time, said Jhingan. They normally leave for the exam hall at least an hour before the scheduled time for the test. “If the exam starts at 10 am,” explained Jhingan, “then it means the children have their insulin shots at around 8.30am. They start developing low sugar levels by 11 am. If the exam is of three hours’ duration, it will go on till 1 pm. In such a situation, there is a decline in the performance levels of the diabetic students.”