May 31, 2021 9:12:26 pm
The Maharashtra government on Monday told the Bombay High Court that Secondary School Certificate (SSC-Class X) exams cannot be compared with Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC-Class XII) exams as HSC exams were “relatively more important milestones” for students.
The state government justified its decisions of cancelling Class X exams — for which it has issued an assessment formula — and postponement of Class XII exams, arguing that the consequences of taking these two exams are different as students appearing for Class XII are more mature, independent, socially aware, bodily and mentally fit.
A vacation bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice S P Tavade on May 20 had rapped the state government and asked it to file an affidavit stating why it had decided to keep Class XII board exams in abeyance and cancelled Class X board exams.
The HC had also asked the state government whether Class X students would be “uniformly” evaluated in case of cancellation of exams and sought to know the assessment formula for the same.
On May 28, the state government announced that students will be evaluated through an internal assessment formula for the academic year 2020-21. The state said that admissions to Class XI will be conducted physically through optional Common Entrance Test (CET) based on Class X syllabus and those unwilling to appear for CET will be admitted on the basis of Class X marks.
On Monday, the state government submitted an affidavit through Rajendra Pawar, Deputy Secretary, state School Education Department, in response to a PIL by Pune resident and retired professor Dhananjay Kulkarni filed through advocate Uday Warunjikar against cancellation of Class X board exams.
The petitioner argued there was no justification for cancelling the SSC exams, for which nearly 16 lakh students appear, and postponing Class XII HSC exams, which are taken by nearly 14 lakh students.
The affidavit said that SSC exams for this year were cancelled after considering the safety of students, teachers, parents and other stakeholders in view of the surge in Covid cases during the second wave. The state also said that final decisions pertaining to Class XII exams will be based on consultation, discussion and guidance of stakeholders along with the Centre’s decision at the national level.
“It was thought fit that Class 12 board examinations were relatively more important milestones in the education of students as their future careers depend upon the same, as compared to 10th standard examinations. Usually, unlike 10th standard, after 12th standard the path of the students’ overall career is decided,” the affidavit said.
“Considering every relevant aspect, 10th standard and 12th standard examinations cannot even be compared with each other. The stages at which these examinations are to be undertaken by students in their overall career, the consequences and effects of undergoing these examinations etc are just not comparable… There would not be any debate that a student from 12th standard would be more matured, independent, socially aware, bodily and mentally fit as compared to 10th standard student.”
The affidavit stated, “For these and such other reasons, it cannot be said that a decision that is taken in regard to holding or not, of any of these two examinations, must be uniformly made applicable to both these examinations. It is like comparing an apple with cheese only because both are edible.”
It said that conducting SSC exams was a “mammoth task” involving nearly 16 lakh students and teachers, parents as well as the police and transport system and that students and teachers had already undergone “turmoil” during academic year 2020-21 due to the pandemic.
The state also submitted that there was a “threat of a third wave” in July or August, which according to medical experts may affect children between 10 and 18 years of age, and therefore decisions pertaining to exams on a large scale will have to be taken with due consideration.
The HC is likely to hear the PIL on June 1.
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