A writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court on behalf of school students protesting against the decision of conducting offline exams under the CBSE, ICSE, NIOS, and several other such education boards in states. Students have been requesting these boards to cancel offline exams and shift back to internal assessments and improvement tests.
What is the plea?
The plea has been filed by Anubha Shrivastava Sahai, an advocate and child rights activist, along with the Student Union of Odisha-NYCS as the second petitioner. Thousands of students came together to sign Google forms regarding their protest, and the petitioners randomly selected two students from each state from those records, talked to them over the phone and then added their names to the plea.
In their plea, the petitioners are requesting an alternate mode of assessment of students of classes 10, 11, 12 of CBSE, ICSE, NIOS and state boards instead of offline exams and an improvement test for those who are not satisfied with internal assessment. They are also asking for further direction by the apex court to constitute a committee to decide the formula of assessment of students, including those with compartmental or retest, and declare the result within a time limit and deadline.
In addition to this, they are also asking the Supreme Court to instruct University Grants Commission (UGC) to constitute a committee to declare the date for admission into various universities and a formula for assessment of Class 12 students who want to take up non-professional courses by conducting an aptitude test or some other mode of assessment within a time limit and deadline.
‘Lost practice of writing’
This plea has been filed as students and petitioners believe students have suffered mentally, physically and financially during the last two years due to Covid-19. When the coronavirus pandemic took over the country and schools were shut down or shifted to online teaching mode, the exams, too, were shifted to online mode.
This had also brought the change of shifting to the MCQ format for exams. Due to this, students have lost the practise and habit of writing, Shrivastava Sahai claimed. Now that the term I board exams (and some of the other exams too) are being conducted in offline mode with subjective questions, the petitioners and students feel it is unfair and will add to their mental pressure.
“The mental pressure that is created for performance in this exam is so much that, every year number of students commit suicide for fear of underperformance, or of failure. To make the students appear and face the examination with the additional fear of getting infected by the Covid-19 virus will not only be unfair but the same will be absolutely inhumane,” the petition reads.
Shrivastava Sahai also told indianexpress.com that it is not just Covid-19 that is putting pressure on students, but the delay in completion of the syllabus by schools and teachers is also adding to their worries. She added while students got enough time to prepare for Term 1 exams, they only have approximately two months to prepare for Term 2 exams.
“What happened was that first term exams were conducted in December and there was another lockdown in January. So, by the end of January, their second term started and now they will appear for exams in two months. So, they (students) are saying that they got eight months for the first term but have only two months for the second term (exams), and that too they have to prepare it in subjective (format),” Shrivastava Sahai explained, adding the syllabus has also not been completed in several schools.
Shrivastava Sahai also claims students have told her that some of them have been assured by some teachers “to come to school and they will help them out” during the exams as she questioned the rationale behind such tests.
She backed her claim with reports from the term 1 exam (from December 2021) when CBSE Schools Management Association (CSMA) alleged that several teachers had helped some students with answers. “This is why we are saying that we should go for an internal assessment. They have been evaluated for the past two years and the result has been good,” she said.