The Ministry of Education (MOE) has called a crucial meeting on Sunday to decide on pending Class 12 board exams and subsequent entrance examinations that were postponed due to the second wave of COVID-19, Union Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said.
The high-level meeting will be chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani as well as Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar will be among those present. Education ministers and secretaries of all states and union territories have been asked to attend the meeting.
Pokhriyal also sought inputs from all the stakeholders – students, parents, teachers and others – through social media on Saturday.
“A high-level virtual meeting will be convened tomorrow (Sunday) with all states and union territories’ education ministers, education secretaries and chairpersons of state examination boards and stakeholders to discuss the proposals for the conduct of exams for Class 12 and entrance examinations for professional courses,” he said.
“I recently held a meeting with the state education secretaries in this regard. The consultative process will be further strengthened through the high-level meeting. This virtual meeting will take place at 11.30 am,” he added.
In a letter to the states and UTs, the education minister has said that his ministry’s Department of School Education and the CBSE were exploring options regarding the conduct of the examinations, keeping in mind the safety and security of both students and teachers.
“The Department of Higher Education is also deliberating upon the finalisation of the dates of examinations for institutions of higher learning. COVID-19 pandemic has affected various areas including the education sector, particularly the board exams and entrance exams,” the letter noted.
In view of the prevailing situation, almost all state education boards, the CBSE and the ICSE have postponed their Class 12 examinations. Similarly, the National Testing Agency (NTA) and other national exam conducting institutions have also postponed entrance exams for admissions to professional courses.
“As the conduct of Class 12 examinations impacts upon state board exams and other entrance exams across the country, and to reduce uncertainty among students, it is desirable that a considered decision based on inputs of different state governments and UT administrations is taken about Class 12 examinations in the interest of all the students across the country,” the letter said.
According to CBSE sources, the possible options that can be explored are –conducting pen and paper mode exams for only major subjects, conducting all exams in two phases planned as per the COVID-19 situation in different states or districts, or cancelling the exams and announcing results as per an alternative assessment scheme.
A senior board official, however, said, “nothing has been finalised yet. A final call will only be taken by the Education Ministry after considering suggestions from all stakeholders”.
The CBSE had on April 14 announced the cancellation of Class 10 exams and postponed Class 12 exams due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The April and May edition of the engineering entrance exam JEE-Mains were also postponed.
The board exams, which are usually conducted in February-March every year, were scheduled to be held from May 4.
The CBSE had announced that a decision on the Class 12 board exams will be taken on or after June 1. A section of students and parents have been demanding that the Class 12 exams be cancelled in the wake of the pandemic situation.
The CBSE had earlier this month announced the marking policy for Class 10 board exams.
According to the policy, while 20 marks for each subject will be for internal assessment as every year, 80 marks will be calculated based on the students’ performance in various tests or exams throughout the year.
Schools across the country were closed in March last year to contain the spread of COVID-19 ahead of a nationwide lockdown.
Several states started reopening the schools partially from October last year, but physical classes were again suspended because of the rise in coronavirus cases.
Last year, the board exams had to be postponed mid-way in March. They were later cancelled, and results were announced based on an alternative assessment scheme.