No decision yet on postponing CBSE exams

As the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) dithers over demands to postpone or cancel Board examinations, at least four State Boards whose exams were originally supposed to begin this month have already announced plans to reschedule in the light of the surge in COVID-19 cases. However, the Education Ministry seems to be taking a wait-and-watch stance on the CBSE’s examinations, which are scheduled to begin on May 4.

Officials at the Ministry and the CBSE have been having discussions on the issue, given the rising demand for cancellation from a large section of students, but were tight-lipped about any final decision. “We cannot say anything at this stage,” said a senior School Education Department official.

Chhattisgarh Education Secretary Alok Shukla pointed out that uncertainty over the course of the pandemic made decision-making a challenge. The State has indefinitely postponed Class X exams, which were scheduled to begin on April 15. “We have not been able to set a new date for it as the number of cases are increasing continuously every day. Unless we have some control over corona, it will be very difficult to decide,” he told The Hindu, adding that cancellation was not ruled out.

However, Class XII exams are still scheduled to begin on May 3. “We are hoping that corona will be under control. If it is not under control, then we will take an appropriate decision at that point of time,” he said, adding that he “could not speculate” on Central policies in this regard.

On the other hand, Maharashtra, which has postponed both Class X and XII exams scheduled to start in the last week of April, has made it clear it wants Central Boards to follow suit. “We will also be writing to the CBSE, ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education), IB (International Baccalaureate), Cambridge boards, requesting them to reconsider their exam dates,” said the State’s School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad on Monday, adding that students, teachers, parents and elected representatives from across parties, academicians and technology giants had been consulted. Despite mulling alternative assessment options, the State has decided to reschedule the Class XII and X exams for late May and June, respectively.

Ms. Gaikwad’s tweet on the postponement used the hashtag #PariskhaPeCharcha, referring to the pre-examination student interaction event held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, at which he did not address the demands for exam cancellation at all.

Exam postponements have cut across political lines, with Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Uttar Pradesh pushing the date of the first examination for both Class X and XII from April 24 to May 8. The State’s Secondary Education Board said the changes were due to panchayat elections in the State.

Punjab, which saw an earlier spike in COVID-19 cases, announced schedule revisions in early March itself, postponing Class X and XII exams to April 20 and May 4, respectively. Now, as those revised dates draw nearer, the State faces the dilemma of whether to postpone exams even further.

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