The education sector is divided on the government's plan to conduct the Class 12 board exams in a different format amid a growing call from a section of students and parents for their cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While many argued that the exams are "crucial and an alternative assessment will not be able to do justice", others said "wellbeing" of students and teachers should be priority in such an extraordinary situation.
The Union Education Ministry, after a high-level meeting on Sunday, said there is a broad consensus among states to conduct the exams and that a final decision will be announced by June 1.
National Students' Union of India president Neeraj Kundan said, "Conducting exams for these 19 subjects could be equally dangerous as it would have been for all the subjects and considering the present conditions in the country this is not the risk which the Modi government should take. Risking lives of the students is certainly the last thing this government should do." Anubha Srivastava Sahai, President of India Wide Parents Association, said, "Complete chaos in India due to no unanimous decision regarding board exams. It's all pre-planned. They have plans to conduct it in July as they could not make arrangements for online exam and internal assessment it's their failure." Ashok Pandey, Director of Ahlcon Group of Schools, said, "Exams are important but in extraordinary situations, empathy, concern for wellbeing should precede efforts to conduct exams." RC Jain, President of Delhi State Public Schools' Management Association, said, "We are ready to conduct exams. It is unfair of the Delhi government to use vaccination as an excuse for not conducting the exams. The exams are crucial and an alternative assessment will not be able to do justice." At Sunday's meeting, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said his government is not in favour of the options being explored by CBSE to conduct the exams and going ahead with the process without vaccinating students will prove to be a big mistake.
Educationist Meeta Sengupta said, "It takes courage to take really safe decisions. It is easy to water down the status quo. At least make it voluntary and promise a certificate of completed requirements to standards for those who don't need to chase marks." According to sources, the CBSE has proposed conducting exams between July 15 and August 26 and the result to be declared in September. The board also proposed two options: conducting regular exams for 19 major subjects at notified centres or conducting shorter duration exams at respective schools where students are enrolled.
The first option proposed during the Sunday meeting was conducting exams at designated centres for 19 major subjects.
"For minor subjects assessment can be based on performance in major subjects. This can be done if three months of time period is clearly and safely available to the board. August could be a likely month for holding the exams and the whole process is likely to go on till September end," a source said.
Elaborating on the second option, the source said, "the exams can be conducted twice by the board depending upon the conducive situation. If a student is not able to appear due to any COVID related matter, he or she will be provided with another opportunity to sit for exams." "The exams will be of 90 minutes duration instead of three hours and will be conducted in same schools where students are enrolled. The questions will be objective and very short answer type. Students will have to appear in one language and three elective subjects," the source added.
The tentative timeline for this option is the first phase of exams from July 15 to August 1 and the second phase from August 8-26.
"Exams are proposed to be conducted on Sundays also," the source said.
The hashtag "cancelboardexams" also trended on Twitter as the meeting was underway.