Updated: June 2, 2021 10:22:48 pm
A day after the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) cancelled Class 12 board exams, the Gujarat government decided to scrap Class 12 state board exams after a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
This comes a day after the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHESB) declared its revised exam schedule for Class 12 from July 1 as well as preparations to vaccinate nearly six lakh students.
Sources revealed that the board had already prepared the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for these exams that was to be announced in a day or two. Additional examination centres (schools) were also identified across the state after physical inspection by education officials as the number of students in one examination class had to be reduced according to Covid protocol. Till Tuesday, the state government was firm on conducting exams on the existing pattern.
Gujarat Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said that the state government had gone ahead with preparation for Class 12 board exams and vaccinating nearly six lakh students above 18 years who were to appear for the exams.
“Barring Maharashtra and Delhi, there was no other state that had opposed the move to conduct Class 12 CBSE exams. So we thought that the exams would be conducted and accordingly prepared for the state boards,” Chudasama told The Indian Express.
However, after the Centre cancelled the CBSE exams on Tuesday, the state government retracted from its stand of conducting Class 12 exams that had been reiterated time and again both by the Chief Minister and the education minister.
Announcing the decision, Chudasama said that the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Board (GSHSEB) Class 12 exams for this academic year are cancelled taking into account the decision by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to scrap CBSE Class 12 exams owing the Covid-19 situation in the country.
“Gujarat has supported the PM’s decision and decides to cancel GSHSEB Class 12 exams. The action plan for Class 12 students will be declared on the basis of central government’s guidelines,” the minister said.
Adding to the existing absence of clarity for Class 10 students, now Class 12 students also have to wait for guidelines on promotion and admission in higher education institutes.
GSHSEB Chairman AJ Shah said, “Based on the CBSE guidelines, the state board will form a committee and issue guidelines for students of Class 12.”
After a high-level meeting chaired by Union Minister for Education Ramesh Pokhriyal in April with the education ministers, secretaries and chairpersons of state examination boards as well as stakeholders of all the states and Union Territories to discuss Class 12 board exams, Chudasama had said the exams “have to be conducted” and later announced the decision to conduct Class 12 state board exams.
“Everyone’s suggestion was taken in the meeting. We said that Class 12 exams have to be conducted, ensuring Covid preparedness and safety of candidates and staff. We have made our stand clear that these exams should be conducted,” Chudasama had told The Indian Express after the meeting.
Even during a core committee meeting on May 13, chaired by the Chief Minister Vijay Rupani where it was decided to mass promote all Class 10 students, Chudasama stressed that Class 12 students “will not be mass promoted”.
According to sources in the education department, the decision to mass promote Class 10 students was taken without taking all the stakeholders into confidence, at a time when the education minister was recovering from Covid.
Then the Chief Minister had said in a statement that the decision to cancel Class 10 exam was taken “in the wider health interest” of the students who were not vaccinated.
While majority of parents and students have welcomed the decision to cancel Class 12 exams, management of several schools have expressed disbelief.
“We had informed the state government that exams must be conducted… We had assured to make all preparations to conduct the exams. The state should have taken an independent decision,” said Bharat Gajipara, president of Gujarat Self Financed School Management Federation.
Adding a possible reason for the sudden U-turn by the state government, Gajipara said, “There must be some directive from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on a possible third wave that made the Centre take the decision.”
Jayesh Patel of Gujarat Wali Ekta Mandal said the parents association welcomed the state government’s decision that was taken in view of the prevailing Covid situation.
However, schools said that a section of “talented students” who have been preparing for more than two years feel “cheated” and “disappointed”.
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