Much like most of her classmates, Tanvi Choudhury, a Class 10 student in a government school in Rohini, Delhi, is worried about when her pre-boards will take place, and whether they will take place online or offline.
While she enjoys online classes, she says that many of her classmates have network issues if the exams were to take place virtually.
From the current academic year, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had moved to a two-term board examination system.
Term 1 board exams for Classes 10 and 12 were concluded in the November-December period. But the Term 1 board results – and the date sheet for Term 2 board exams – are both awaited.
The final mark sheet at the end of the academic year will combine both Term 1 and Term 2 board results.
A majority of schools in Delhi and otherwise were to conduct pre-board exams in January much before the Term 2 board exams. Some were even planning multiple pre-board exams to better prepare the students. However, with the rise of COVID-19 cases amid the new Omicron variant, their plan could be in limbo.
“I have a few doubts in mathematics. Hopefully, I will be able to clear them with my teacher online, or in tuition, before the exam,” Tanvi adds.
Board Examinations: A Big Concern, Yet Again
Schools in Delhi had opened for all classes in November, for the first time since March 2020, only to be shut two weeks later, but this time due to air pollution. Physical classes resumed for Class 6 onwards on 18 December. But yet again, on 28 December, when Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a 'yellow' alert in the city due to high COVID-19 positivity rate, schools and educational institutes had to be shut.
Parents, teachers and principals worry that the fate of young learners now hangs in the balance, and especially those who are taking board examinations this year or next year will be severely affected. There is a lack of clarity on whether students should prepare to take their examinations online or offline.
Aprajita Gautam, President, Delhi Parents' Association, says, “Once we see the increase in cases, the government should be more decisive. For instance, if they have decided that schools are going to be shut, why not announce that the semester will be online, rather than confusing the children?”
Jyoti Arora, Principal, Mount Abu Public School tells The Quint that the notification to shut schools was the correct decision as there had been a daily dropdown in attendance since the cases had started increasing.
While safety is a priority, she says a number of concerns came to the fore when exams are conducted online. First, she says that internet connection is a problem for many students. Second, she adds, “Fairness is a concern, too. It is a human tendency to opt for unfair means when there is an opportunity to do so.”
And so the timing couldn't have been worse.
“This is the time when the syllabus is completed, students are made to revise... mock practicals take place. When students had started coming back to school physically, students were on the right direction.”Jyoti Arora, Principal, Mount Abu Public School
“For teachers, too, checking papers online is more time-consuming. The feedback that is possible in physical learning is missing,” she says.
‘Unsure of How to Prepare’
Shreyans Garg, a Class 12 student in the Science stream of Mount Abu Public School, says that there are students who had to miss classes for some or the other reason. “At the end of the year, a few students who skipped a few chapters because they missed classes, now do not know what to do,” he says.
Shreya Gautam, a Class 10 student of Presentation Convent Senior Secondary School in Delhi, says it is a bit difficult to interact and get doubts cleared as opposed to the offline method. She adds, “I have a few doubts in mathematics. It is such a subject that when you see the teacher solve a problem in front of you, you can understand it better.”
Many students say that they tend to take online examinations lightly because the invigilation is not as strict. But when it is suddenly announced that the examinations will be held offline, they begin to stress.
Satya Prakash, Delhi President of the All India Parents’ Association, says that the uncertainty leads to students facing mental health issues. He adds, “I am closely watching my daughter who is in Class 11 but her interest in studies is slowly dwindling because there has been such a big gap... She was preparing for NEET but she does not have the guidance that she would have had, under normal circumstances.”
According to Delhi Parents' Association's Aprajita, the COVID situation is unpredictable, but the patterns can be predicted. "As a mother, I can say that it is very confusing for both child and parent when it is suddenly decided that schools are opening or shutting the very next day. We start frantically arranging uniforms since children have outgrown them. Buses are not available so there is the added stress of arranging pick-ups and drops on a short notice, for many,” she says.
In the previous academic year, the CBSE had decided to cancel its Class 10 and Class 12 board exams. The final results were based on internal examination results.