Almost all states on Tuesday told the education ministry that Central Board for Secondary Education’s Class 12 examinations should be held with most favouring the second option of shorter duration examination for 19 major subjects.
Only Delhi, Punjab and West Bengal opposed holding examinations till all teachers and students appearing for exams were vaccinated.
There are differences when the examination should be held. Some flood and extreme rainfall prone states such as Bihar, Assam and Uttarakhand want the examination to be held after monsoon season.
The education ministry had given the states time till Tuesday to decide on the CBSE class 12 examinations and choose one of the two options. The first option was three hour examination for 19 major subjects in month of August.
The second option was 90 minute exam with students having to appear only in one language and three elective subjects from July 15 to August I and then from August 5 to August 26. The exams will be 90 minutes long and will feature MCQs. Results for both options are proposed to be declared by September end.
The education ministry officials had said the idea was to start a shorter, new academic year from November and to reduce undue stress on students and their parents. The ministry had said that cancelling of the examination was also an option provided most states recommended that.
Among a few states that have suggested cancellation of the examination is Delhi government, which does not want board examinations till all teachers and students are vaccinated.
“If the Centre and state governments work together, it would take 3 to 4 weeks to fully vaccinate teachers and students of class 12. Following vaccination, the ministry can arrange for examination as per option B,” Delhi education minister Manish Sisodia wrote to the union education ministry on Tuesday.
Punjab school education minister, Vijay Inder Singla, backed Sisodia’s suggestion and preferred option B. “All students appearing in Class 12 board exams and teachers, both government and private, should be vaccinated before the board exams are started,” he said.
West Bengal also wants the examinations to be cancelled. An official of the state education department said the Bengal government wants indefinite postponement of the state board examinations in view of the pandemic.
As per officials in multiple states, there is a view that the shorter duration examination for lesser subjects should be held in July before onset of heavy monsoon and floods in northern and eastern states.
Uttarakhand government has expressed its inability to conduct the examinations in after mid July and August, when the state receives heavy monsoon rainfall. “If exams cannot be held in June end or July first week, then it should be postponed till September as during peaking monsoon season examinations in a hill state like ours won’t be suitable,” said Uttarakhand school education secretary R Meenakshi Sundaram.
Similarly, Bihar government has raised the issue of floods, especially in northern parts of the state, in July end and August. Bihar education minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary asked Centre to avoid examination during monsoon when the states witnessed heavy flooding. “The Centre should consider online option,” he said. The Bihar Board examinations were held in February and results declared in March end, he added.
Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and Kerala governments wants the CBSE examinations to be held with adequate time to be given to students to prepare. Kerala education minister V Sivankutty said the government had preferred the second option and informed Centre that apprehension of students regarding their higher studies should be addressed immediately.
“We also want second option,” said Jharkhand education secretary Rajesh Sharma. Tamil Nadu school education minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi told reporters that they would prefer second option as it would reduce stress on students. “A final decision would be taken by chief minister M K Stalin,” he said. Chhattisgarh Education Minister Prem Sai Singh Tekam wrote a letter to Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal and said that Centre should hold the CBSE examinations as early as possible.
Himachal Pradesh education secretary Rajeev Sharma wrote to the education ministry on Tuesday saying option-B appears was feasible option as it requires shorter window and will also reduce stress upon the examinees. The education secretary wrote while considering the dates for the exam the trend of COVID-19 infections also needs to be kept in mind so that the exams are held at a time when the new cases are at the lowest.
Advisor to Jammu and Kashmir, Lieutenant Governor( LG), RR Bhatnagar, who also holds school education portfolio, said, “They would abide by the Centre’s directions on holding class 12 CBSE exams and NEET and JEE examinations.” He added Class 12 exams of J&K state board has already been done in Kashmir valley and two-third completed in Jammu region. Chandigarh has opted for the shorter option B for class 12 examinations, said Director School Education Rubinderjit Singh Brar.
Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments informed the ministry that they would prefer the second option but final decision would depend on ground Covid situation. Andhra Pradesh is holding class 10 examination from June 7 even though Telangana has cancelled all exams and passed all students enrolled for exams as passed except class 12, whose examination dates would be announced later, said state education minister, Adimulapu Suresh.
Haryana education minister Kanwar Pal said the state will follow in letter and spirit the Centre’s direction and they prefer the second option. He said if the Centre gives green signal to hold the exams, the state education department would start the state board examinations from June 20.
States wanting option one are MP and Rajasthan.
Madhya Pradesh school education minister Inder Singh Parmar said they want first option as changing examination system mid-day can create problems for students. “We have suggested to conduct exam as per existing pattern because introduction of new pattern just 1-2 month before the final exam would create confusion among students,” he said.
He added that the CBSE exam schedule should be decided after taking stock of Covid situation in different states. The minister said MP will take final decision on conducting class 12 exam of MP Board in June first week after analysing the ground situation.
Rajasthan education minister Govind Singh Dotasara said the state supports holding Class 12 exams. The GoI has given two options of which we have supported the existing format of holding the exam (3-hour paper). A change in pattern would not be comfortable for the students. The exam date should be decided only after assessing the Covid19 situation.
Several school principals also called for the cancellation of exams. “If the government conducts exams by August-September, we fear that the pandemic might spread once again. Students who are sick with mild symptoms might conceal the fact and appear for the exam due to the fear of missing out on the year. Students can carry home the virus and endanger their family members,” said AK Jha, principal of Government Co-ed Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, Rohini.
Ameeta Mulla Wattal, principal of Springdales School, Pusa Road, said, “We need to come up with some alternative criteria since the pandemic continues to prevail. Students went through a lot of anxiety last year and the same is continuing this year as well. We can explore the possibility of delinking boards with college entrances.”