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Explained: CBSE exams for Class 12 in July — why the opposition?

Why have parents approached the top court against holding CBSE Class 12 Board exams in July?

Written by Ritika Chopra , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 19, 2020 7:09:07 pm
Students chat after appearing in a Class 12 CBSE board exam at a centre in New Delhi in 2013. File/Express Photo By Amit Mehra

What are the objections to holding the Class 12 CBSE exams in July, and why is the decision still hanging fire despite fierce opposition from the parents? We explain.

Why have parents approached the top court against holding Class 12 Board exams in July?

The most obvious concern that parents have is whether it’s safe to send their children even as many states continue to report a record surge in Covid-19 positive cases on most days. CBSE has increased the number of examination centres from 3,000 to 15,000 to maintain social distancing. But parents have questioned the practicality of ensuring proper cleanliness and safety measures at so many centres (especially those located in rural areas) and that students wear gloves and masks in the July heat and humidity. However, the biggest objection is to the Board’s silence on how students living in hotspots and containment zones are going to travel to their test centres, given the restrictions on movement in such areas.

So, why is the issue of holding CBSE Board exams still hanging fire, despite vehement objections from a section of students and parents?

The decision is not simple. Any change would have an immediate effect on admission to higher education institutions. Hypothetically, if CBSE decides to postpone the Board exams, then national entrance tests such as NEET, JEE (Main) and JEE (Advanced) would, in all likelihood, also be delayed. To scrap the exam or make it optional, the Board would have to come up with an alternate method of evaluation.

CBSE officials are also concerned that if exams are made optional, then those opting out could face discrimination at the time of seeking admission to a university or college of their choice. At least that’s what the Board had observed during the years when the Class 10 Board exams were optional. Many schools accepting lateral admissions in Class XI, at that time, would often prefer students who had taken the Board exam.

What has further complicated matters are states like Delhi and Maharastra, which have expressed inability to help the Board in conducting the exams as the two states are currently overwhelmed with Covid-19 cases.

What have other school boards done?

While State School Boards in Telangana, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry have cancelled their Class 10 Board exams, no one has, till date, scrapped the exam for Class 12. Kerala has even conducted Board exams for 13 lakh Class 10 & 12 students in the last week of May. The state finance minister Thomas Isaac tweeted this week that none of the students had shown symptoms two weeks after the exams finished.

The Council for Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) has decided to make the remaining papers for Class 10 and 12 students optional. Students can opt to have their results tabulated based on their performance in their school’s pre-board exams.

When is CBSE’s decision expected?

The Supreme Court has given the Board time till Tuesday to respond to the plea filed by parents for scrapping the exams. HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal has already met with the Home Minister and spoken to the Health Minister this week on this issue. He also held a meeting with the school education secretary Anita Karwal, CBSE chief Manoj Ahuja and Director General of National Testing Agency Vineet Joshi on Tuesday and another one is expected today. A decision on this matter is likely next week on Monday.

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