CBSE, Others Scrap XII Exams: What Educators Must Focus On Now
Students & teachers are relieved at this decision amid a brutal 2nd wave of COVID. But what lies ahead?
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) cancelled their 12th board exams after the intervention of PM Narendra Modi. He chaired a high-level meeting with several ministers where it was decided — after much consultation and going through the suggestions of various stake holders — that the Class XII Board Exams would not be held this year.
It was also decided that the CBSE would take steps to compile the results of class XII students as per well-defined objective criteria in a time-bound manner. Soon after, the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) and several state governments also cancelled the same in their respective states.
Students, teachers, parents, doctors, educationists and many social workers from across India have been clamouring for the cancellation of class 12 board exams, due to the brutal second wave of COVID-19, and to instead introduce an alternative to offline exams.
The new variant strains of the deadly virus have been reported as more contagious and more virulent, and apart from double-masking, the only safe way to contain further spread is to maintain physical distance and avoid any kind of social gathering with many people in close contact.
In-person board exams would have become ‘super-spreader’ events, exposing lakhs of students, teachers and administrative staff to the deadly virus.
Performance Pressure, Anxiety & Fear Among Students
The mental pressure to perform in these exams is so much that every year, a significant number of students die by suicide for fear of under-performance or of failure.
To make students face in-person examinations, with the additional fear of catching COVID-19, would have not only been unfair but also inhuman.
In January, the decision was taken to open up schools in a phased manner in several states, however, within a fortnight, the COVID cases went up significantly, and many students, teachers, and members of non- teaching staff got infected. A month later, we were to face the full force of the virus in a horrific second wave that killed many, impaired many for life, even as our healthcare systems saw a total collapse.
Why It Was Wise to Cancel In-Person Exams At This Time
Against this backdrop, holding exams in person would have put an additional burden on our already struggling healthcare systems, by potentially fatally infecting many. The second wave has seen many previously unaffected young people getting infected, with many even succumbing to the virus. This is due to the virulence of the new strains. And with the virus further mutating, a third wave in the offing is expected to affect more youth, as per experts.
Cancellation of the exams has thus brought much relief to students, teachers and their families.
Prioritising the health and safety of students and their loved ones is indeed a welcome move, and we must thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for it.
While class XII boards are important for a student’s future studies and career prospects, it was important to recognise the fact that we live in unusual times, and the pandemic has disrupted not just regular education but turned our lives upside down in every way.
Now Students Can Be Anxiety-Free & Focus On Prep For Higher Studies
The decision has finally put students who were to appear for their boards at ease, and they can now they can focus on preparing for competitive exams like the JEE-NEET, etc instead of living in fear and anxiety.
We hope all other state boards will follow in their (CBSE, ICSE) footsteps. We have filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court for the cancellation of all physically-held state board exams — including those under the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS).
We have requested for the results to be declared at the earliest while following the CBSE evaluation formula. We are also demanding that the process for admissions to non-professional courses be regulated to bring in uniformity.
CBSE’s Evaluation Formulae
CBSE is now working on an evaluation formula and have also notified that class 12 assessments will be made as per well-defined objective criteria in a time-bound manner, and any student who is not satisfied with the evaluation will be given an opportunity to appear for another examination which will be held when the situation is conducive.
CBSE can use the same formula which they used to assess class 10 board exams by evaluating students on their past and present performances. And if any school has not done any internal assessment in class 12, they can be given the time to conduct some viva online or via telephone, and can assign projects, etc to students and then prepare the results — these can be scrutinised by external examiners (such as teachers from other schools) to ensure transparency and fairness.
I feel even other states should follow the same evaluation method, so as to have uniformity across boards and prevent discrimination.
This will ensure equality and fairness, and every student across boards will be on same page; this becomes important in light of the fact that students often go to different parts of the country — away from their home town — to pursue higher studies. Fairness of evaluation is thus crucial.
What About College Admissions?
After the results are declared, the admission process can be regulated by the University Grants Commission (UGC), by framing uniform guidelines for the courses where the students are admitted as per the merit list, which is based on their class 12 marks.
Many are debating how colleges will handle the admissions process, without adversely impacting the students, given the circumstances surrounding the ‘new normal’.
As far as technical and professional courses are concerned, we have entrance exams; some colleges have their own entrance exams and conduct aptitude tests too. Others can admit students as per the results declared by respective boards or can have an aptitude test at their level, which can be conducted online, and the UGC can frame guidelines if required for the same.
The merit list can be prepared, and preference can be given to those who qualify in the test; others can be admitted based on their class 12 board exam scores.
We all look forward to a ‘normal’ life, where conventional activities can resume, but for now, we can only continue to take safety measures and follow COVID-compliant protocol, and wait for better times.
(Anubha Shrivastava Sahai is the President, India-Wide Parents Association. She tweets @anubha1812. This is an opinion piece. The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
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