A spike in coronavirus cases across the country seems to have forced a rethink within the government on the CBSE’s offline Board examinations, scheduled to begin on May 4.
Sources in the Education Ministry told The Indian Express that holding the examinations on time seems “difficult”, given the increase in fresh infections.
While the government now seems open to reconsidering the examination dates, officers said it was too early to indicate the exact changes to the schedule.
India’s active Covid-19 caseload reached 11,08,087 on Sunday, the highest ever. Daily deaths continue to show an upward trend: 839 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, 309 of them in Maharashtra, followed by 123 in Chhattisgarh and 58 in Punjab.
The rethink comes amid a growing chorus of student voices demanding cancellation of Board exams. While an online petition has garnered almost 2 lakh signatures, the hashtag #cancelboardexam2021 has been trending on Twitter for several days, recording more than 5 lakh tweets on Sunday.
The demand has also received the Opposition’s support. Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have urged Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal to intervene and direct CBSE to reconsider its decision to go ahead with the Board examinations in May despite the “massive and uncontrolled” rise in Covid-19 cases. In her letter, Priyanka stated that lakhs of children and their parents have expressed “fears and apprehensions” about assembling at examination centres in the middle of the second wave of Covid-19.
She also urged the government to consult all stakeholders before making “sweeping decisions”.
The Shiv Sena has written separately to the Education Ministry, requesting the government to develop a national consensus and possibly reschedule Class X and XII CBSE and other school Board exams.
Earlier this month, the CBSE reiterated it was going ahead with the Board exams as scheduled and that it has doubled the number of exam centres to provide adequate physical distancing.