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Cancelling board exams

After many ifs and buts, the government decided to cancel the Board exams due to the pandemic. This has led to mixed reactions.

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As the corona pandemic spread across the country, a plea was filed in the apex court by Advocate Mamta Sharma on behalf of students and parents where she contended that due to the unprecedented health emergency and surge in Covid-19 cases, it was not possible to conduct the examination.

The petition also said that it was the duty of the state to take care of the health and safety of students and at the same time, not to hamper their higher education and career prospects. It said the Covid-19 situation was more severe this year in comparison and the respondents should adopt the same criteria of assessing the grading/marks of Class 12 students as last year.

Thereafter, on June 1, the government announced the cancellation of CBSE Board exams for Class 12. The decision was taken at a high-level review meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Hours after the development, Indian School Certificate board exams for Class 12 too were cancelled.

On June 19, CBSE came up with its evaluation formula for the Class 12 results. This 30:30:40 formula gave 30 percent weightage to the students’ performances in Class 10 and Class 11 each, while 40 percent would be given to the Class 12 performance.

Modi said that the decision regarding Class 12 CBSE exams was taken in the interests of students. He stated that Covid-19 had affected the academic calendar and the issue of board exams had been causing immense anxiety among students, parents and teachers, which must be put to an end.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a tweet: “I am glad 12th exams have been cancelled. All of us were very worried about the health of our children. A big relief.” However, the cancellation of the Board exams evoked mixed reactions as students performing well in school wanted to appear for them. Many felt that the inclusion of Class 9 and 11 marks in the assessment would push down students’ marks.

Raju Shivanand, a teacher in a reputed school in Bengaluru, told India Legal: “Keeping in mind the health of students, I feel cancellation of Board exams for Classes 10 and 12 was necessary. But cancelling them will definitely affect the results of students who have worked hard throughout the year. They will be at a loss compared to students who did not put in enough effort. Accordingly, a fair assessment criteria must be designed so that no student feels at a loss. Students looking for admission in desired universities may face problems as they may or may not achieve the result they are looking for due to the assessment criteria.”

Rukumini Rai, a teacher in a prominent school in Noida, said: “The cancelling of the CBSE exams has left teachers very dissatisfied because the means which they were adopting to calculate a child’s progress is not going to satisfy a large number of children. It is a decision taken in haste and is a blow to our IT industry as they could have devised some means to test these children. After all, classes were continuing and we were evaluating the students. The teachers could have been taken into confidence and combined with some technology we could have devised ways and means to evaluate the children.”

She said that children who were not studying because of the unprecedented situation were happy as the exam for them was just a stamp to declare that they are educated. “However, good students are upset because for future admissions in colleges, their result would have been a reflection of their work and preparation.”

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Shikshavi, a Class 12 student at SKV C1 Yamuna Vihar Senior Secondary School, said that with this decision, students’ worry about the examinations had ended, but the criteria for assessment left them worried. “Board examinations are seen as a stepping stone to higher studies, and an alternative assessment strategy that takes into account the marks in Class 11 or Class 9 may not do justice to the hard work they put in throughout this academic year.”

Shikshavi said that many students do not do their best in Classes 9 or 11. Some others may not do well in assessments and school-level examinations even in Class 12 and reserve all their effort for the Boards. Such students may find themselves at a disadvantage.

However, the positive issue is that these assessments will not be based on students cramming for their exams and regurgitating their notes in examinations.

—By Abhinav Verma and India Legal News Service

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