More than one lakh students of classes 10 and 12 have petitioned the government to either cancel board exams scheduled to be held in May or conduct them in online mode due to the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases. A hashtag “cancelboardexams2021” too had been trending on Twitter for the past two days.
However, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) have assured students that “adequate safety arrangements” have being made and all COVID-19 protocols will be followed during the exams.
A senior CBSE official said, “Adequate arrangements are being made to ensure the students are safe and all COVID protocols are followed.”
The number of exam centres too has been increased by 40-50 per cent to provide more space to ensure social distancing. “The staff at exam centres is being sensitised to ensure all guidelines are followed,” the official told news agency PTI.
Gerry Arathoon, the chief executive and secretary at CISCE also clarified that the schedule for exams “will remain the same.”
Over 34 lakh students have registered this year for classes 10 and 12 examinations. They are scheduled to be held on May 4, and while the exams for class 10 will conclude on June 7, class 12 will end on June 11.
However, currently India seems to be poised on a second wave of the pandemic as it continues to register high single-day spikes of new COVID-19 cases. Union Health Ministry data updated on April 8 showed 1,26,789 new COVID-19 cases were recorded on a single day, pushing its infection tally to 1,29,28,574.
In this grim scenario, a petition on Change.org urged the education minister to cancel all examinations to be held this year as students are already under a lot of stress. A class 10 student too tweeted suggesting that the government should postpone the exams for at least a month and then take a further review based on the situation.
While another user tweeted that the students had already faced a lot of problems in this academic session with online classes, so the exams too should be held online. Or else, the students should be promoted via internal assessment marks.
As a norm, practical exams are held in January, while written exams begin in February and conclude in March. However, the exams were delayed because of the pandemic this year and were scheduled to be held in May-June.
Last week, the board had announced that re-tests would be conducted for any student, who failed to appear for ongoing practical exams after the student or any family member got COVID. But it is still not clear if the same relaxation will be available for theory exams as well.
School education in the country was disrupted in March last year, when schools were closed down to contain the spread of COVID-19. However, several states had cautiously started opening schools partially for the senior classes with COVID-19 safety guidelines. But physical classes are once again suspended with the steep rise in cases hitting the country.
Last year, the CBSE and ICSE board exams had to be postponed mid-way in March. They were later cancelled and the results were announced on the basis of an alternative assessment scheme.