Testing times

| Updated on December 30, 2020 Published on December 30, 2020

Holding both Class 10 and Class 12 boards can be risky in Covid times. The first can be scrapped

With the Covid threat still at large and the ‘UK strain’ on the prowl, the Centre should pick a leaf out of what it did in some measure in the last academic year — do away with the CBSE board exams for Class 10 and spare resources, human and physical, for the more crucial school-leaving examination. In 2019-20, Class 10 students could not complete all their papers. The lockdown intervened, as a result exams were rescheduled for July 1-15, only to be scrapped later. Even as students’ anxiety mounted over the fate of the exams, a group of parents moved the Supreme Court praying for cancellation, citing safety concerns arising out of the pandemic. The CBSE cancelled the remaining exams, but notified that for Class 12 an optional exam would be conducted in all subjects. As for Class 10 students, their results were declared on the basis of an assessment scheme devised by a committee set up by the Board.

For this academic year, the Centre can scrap the Class 10 exam and assess students on an internal assessment formula, allowing for considerations such as urban and rural locations, tele-density of a region and its access to electricity among other such socio-economic indicators. This might sound clumsy, but it is safer than going ahead with exams and undertaking the risk of a resurgence of the pandemic. It must also be kept in mind that Europe’s Covid resurgence coincided with the opening of schools. India’s strategy worked last year. Since the optional exam was only conducted for Class 12 students, the Board had the elbow room to increase the number of examination centres by over three times — from about 5,000 centres for 11,92,961 Class 12 students prior to the pandemic to nearly 15,000 centres during the pandemic, ie in September this year. This was possible largely because the Board did not have to accommodate 18,85,885 students who had registered for Class X exams in 2019-20. Indeed, the number of exam centres required for Class 10 students, even in normal times, is in the region of 5,300.

The shortage of centres in the event of both exams being held in the same period can be well imagined in the context of Covid. Questions about the relevance of the Class 10 examination have been raised in the past, on the grounds that it merely adds to the stress levels of students, without being a school leaving exam. Its significance lies in the choice of streams, for which students’ aptitudes can be ascertained later. The counterview here is that making this exam optional lowers standards. Be that as it may, this year is too unprecedented for normal parameters to apply. The Class 10 board exam can be cancelled after putting in place the necessary assessment systems, while the Class 12 exams can be held across an expanse of centres with the necessary precautions.

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

Published on December 30, 2020
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor