Parents of children whose board exams are scheduled for July are demanding that the exams be cancelled in the wake of the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic. They are concerned that conducting exams at this time will risk the health of their wards. CBSE and ICSE had announced that they will conduct the pending exams in July.
In an initiative launched by the parents of children, questions were raised regarding the feasibility of conducting exams at this point. It was pointed out that when the exams were abandoned, there were a lot fewer cases in India than the figures currently. The parents demanded to know what was the guarantee that their wards will not contract the virus during the examination.
The parents pointed out that answer sheets, question papers and other materials necessary for exams are handled by a lot of people which could further aid in the spread of the virus. The parents stated further, “Are we as parents willing to take the risk of exposing our children to the virus? No. Is the Board willing to take a risk? It appears so.”
The parents also pointed out that it could very well be that children prepare for these exams but in the end, due to unforeseeable circumstances, the exams could be cancelled again which would then significantly affect the morale of the students. Thus, they assert that it could very well impact the psychological and physical well-being of the children. They were also concerned that the children could develop the infection right before the exams, which would then impact their future.
A petition was also filed in this regard in the Bombay High Court. Advocate Arvind Tiwari, who filed the said case, said that the results could be declared on the basis of past performances and examinations already held. He also happens to be the parent of a student in Class X. The Bombay HC was also informed that the CISCE has decided that students will be given the option to decide whether they wish to appear for the exams or thy seek their marks to be evaluated on the basis of their pre-board exams conducted by their own school.
The CISCE said that its paramount objective is to “protect the safety, well-being and academic endeavours of students sitting for the ICSE and ISC examinations”. Consequently, it was decide to provide the above mentioned option to the students. The students will be required to inform their schools of their decision and the school will forward the same to the CISCE.
In the event that the exams are cancelled again for some reason, then the marks will be allotted based on their performance in their pre-board exams. It has also been made very clear that students can change their decision from taking the examination to not appearing for it at any point of time prior to the examination provided that the school has informed the same about it to the Board. Consistent with the decision taken by the CISCE, schools have already initiated the process with their students.
There are some concerns, however, regarding the options that have been made available. It is known that students don’t score as high as they would in Board Exams in their pre-board exams. There are a variety of reasons for this. Firstly, the question paper in these exams are much more difficult than board exams as schools want to put their students through the harshest test in these exams itself.
Furthermore, students are also raised with the expectation that these pre-board exams do not really matter and hence, they always prioritise their board exams over the pre-boards. Also, examiners are also a bit misery in awarding marks in these exams because they do not want students to feel overconfident regarding their prospects.
For all these reasons, the marks secured by students in these exams are not truly reflective of the marks they would normally score in Board exams. Hence, concerns have been raised with regards to this in the Court as well. It is now believed that the Boards will come up with some sort of mechanism to ensure that the marks that are eventually allotted to students in their final exams on the basis of pre-board exams are as reflective of their abilities as they could possibly be.
For this reason, many parents are of the opinion that it is forcing the students to choose between two very bad choices. Given such a situation, it is unclear what the consequence will be. And parents are still demanding that the exams be cancelled. It is pertinent to mention here that certain boards have already cancelled their exams for class X following pressure from parents.
The previous Tuesday, Tamil Nadu announced the cancellation of their exams and their decision to promote all students to class XI. It was also decided that board exams for class XI will also be cancelled. He also announced that the marks will be allotted based on the marks on their internal exams and based on their attendance.
Telangana also decided to promote all Class X students and award them grades based on internal assessment by the schools in previous examinations. It was also announced that a decision will be taken on post-graduate examinations based on prevailing circumstances in the near future.
Under such circumstances, it is unlikely that any solution will be reached that will please all parties. And no matter what decision is taken, someone or the other will remain dissatisfied with the outcome. Even so, the cancellation of the exams do appear to be the safest path forward given the threat that the pandemic poses.