The CBSE’s decision on board examinations in view of rising COVID-19 cases evoked mixed reactions from school principals and educationists who demanded there should be a fair criteria for grading class 10 students and a schedule be announced soon for class 12 examinees.
The CBSE on Wednesday cancelled class 10 board exams and postponed class 12 exams following surge in coronavirus cases. While the situation will be reviewed in June for conduct of class 12 examinations, the result for class 10 will be declared on basis of an objective criteria decided by the board.
The exams were scheduled to begin from May 4.
According to Sangeeta Hajela, principal of DPS Indirapuram, “Class 10 board exams are not the school-leaving examinations marking the transition to higher learning institutions; the result of 10th board helps students and teachers assess the stream choice and the subject allocation.”
“The focus should be now to address the learning gap that has already occurred. However, class 12 board examinations have a different kind of sanctity attached to them, because all higher studies opportunities and career choices, both in India and abroad, depend on them,” she said.
The decision on the two examinations was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Pallavi Upadhyaya, principal of DPS-RNE Ghaziabad, said the pattern for evaluation of class 10 students should be shared as quickly as possible with the schools to enable the teachers to get the students ready.
Rajat Goel, director of MRG School, Rohini, said, “Considering the current scenario, where we do not have enough online provisions throughout the country, it is a practical move. Having said that, in the entire year of the pandemic, we have not been able to develop our country to provide education to students all over the country.”
“Had we been prepared for it, we could have made online provisions for the same. It’s unfortunate that the students have put in so much effort through out the year to achieve their desired result in board examination for nothing but in the current situation, health comes first for all,” he added.
The demands for cancellation of board exams were being raised from various quarters. Over 2 lakh students had also signed an online petition demanding cancellation of board exams and the hasthtag “cancelboardexams” has also been trending on Twitter for a week.
States including Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab have already announced changes in plans for board exams.
According to Alka Kapur, principal of Modern School, Shalimar Bagh, “From a student’s point of view, they would want the exams to be over so that they can get on with their career, but the second wave of COVID-19 is wreaking havoc across the country, some states faring worse than others. Since the CBSE board has an all-India character, it cannot conduct the examinations separately for different states. Therefore, we have to wait for the situation to become manageable.”
Sunita Gandhi, educationist and founder of Global Education Training Institute, said for those in class 12, the window of 15 days’ notice provides mental relief given the circumstances.
“It is good that the CBSE will promote class 10 students to the next class on some fair basis. This is disappointing for those children, teachers and schools who have worked really hard towards their goals,” she said.
“Considering the situation, however, we all have to accept and bear it. It is some relief that children can take an exam if not satisfied with the marks they will get. Hard times have required hard decisions. These children can also show their competence in Class 12 examinations,” she added.
Praveen Raju, co-chairman, FICCI ARISE, said the modalities on assessing grade 10 students should be discussed with the stakeholders to arrive at the best possible solution under the current circumstances.
Charu Wahi, principal of Nirmal Bhatia School was of the view that the government should now just decide and fix a date to avoid any further uncertainty, and hence, anxiety in the children.
“Having fixed this date, they should not lose any time and plan and prepare for an alternative mode of assessment in the event the rise in cases continues. No further postponement should be made,” she said.
According to Shishir Jaipuria, chairman of Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Educational Institutions, Ghaziabad, while the board exams provide a fairly accurate assessment of a student’s intellect and learning, these are unprecedented times and the health safety of students cannot be compromised with.
“It is observed that the infection is spreading even in children, hence it was not advisable to conduct offline exams. It is a tough decision on the part of the government and I’m sure much thought has gone into it. I hope that the situation improves in the near future with the vaccination of more and more people, so that the uncertainty over class 12 exams can end and education can return to relative normalcy,” he said.
Vishnu Karthik, Director of Heritage Xperiential Learning School, said class 10 is not a high stake examination and thus the opportunity cost of cancelling the exams is not high.
“Although, CBSE will find it hard to come up with fair assessment alternative and in such situations, even a perfect alternative will adversely impact some sections of the students,” he said.
“Cancelling grade 12 exams is not an alternative as it would be unfair to thousands of students and it would impact their university admissions. Also, the spread of COVID-19 is not uniform across the country. Thus, taking a decision in a few months from now will help in taking a more informed decision,” he added.
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