Scrap the Class 12 exams
A meeting convened by the Centre on Sunday to discuss the feasibility of conducting the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and other Class 12 exams remained inconclusive. A final decision will be taken on June 1, after state governments send their suggestions. In the backdrop of the pandemic, CBSE has proposed two options on the methodology, process, duration, and timings. The first entails examination for “major subjects” to be conducted at the “designated examination centres and in the existing format”, with marks “calculated as per the assessment scheme based on the performance in the major subjects” in the minor subjects. The second involves conducting exams at schools where students are enrolled, reducing the duration of exams, and switching to only multiple choice and short answer-type questions. While most states preferred the second option, Delhi and Maharashtra said exams should not be held. Several states also raised the demand for vaccinating students and teachers first.
While deciding on the fate of exams, the safety of all stakeholders (students, teachers, parents, who can’t be prevented from congregating outside exam centres) must be the top parameter. To be sure, the second wave will ebb at some point, but large-scale movement of students, parents, teachers and officials will put them at risk, and also could lead to a fresh spike in cases. Not all students will have the luxury of private transport and many will use public transport to reach their schools/centres. And while some states have demanded vaccination for students, vaccines are not easily available and many students in Class 12 are below 18 years of age, and will not be eligible for the jab. Also remember that these students have been in Class 12 since last March — and even if one of the two options outlined by CBSE is picked, exams will be held only in July, with results out in August, leaving them in the same class for almost 18 months. Schools, too, are struggling with two batches of Class 12 students. If at all the exams needed to be held, the only window when this could have been done was in late February end-early March, but the government chose to announce state elections then.
Purely to prevent a possible super-spreader event, the government must scrap the Class 12 exams and formulate an evaluation process that responds to the need of the extraordinary situation and gives students space to recuperate physically and mentally. It could arrive at a fair formula of using Class 11 results and internal assessments or use mock exam results to assess students. It’s time to focus on alternative evaluation methods to enable the 2021 batch of Class 12 students to move to the next stage of their lives.
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