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COVID-19: About half a dozen states cancelled board exams

Due to an alarming wave in coronavirus cases, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) cancelled its exams for Class 10 and deferred those for Class 12, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra have also postponed their state board exams for these classes. States like West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh are observing the situation and are yet to determine whether to go ahead with the board exams. In Karnataka, they will conduct the exams as programmed. Meghalaya also reported that it is ready to hold the state board exams for Class 12 but will take a decision on Class 10 exams after a survey of the situation is made.

The developments came, following a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as the central government declared the cancellation of Class 10 exams and the postponement of Class 12 exams conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education.

It’s for the first time that the CBSE has completely cancelled the board exams and it will affect over 21 lakh students across the country. The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), the other prominent national board besides the CBSE, said it will soon decide on conducting Class 10 and Class 12 board exams.

“We are reviewing the situation and will soon take a decision in this regard,” CICSE Chief Executive and Secretary Gerry Arathoon said. Its Class 10 exams are scheduled to begin from May 5 while Class 12 exams have already begun from April 8.

Last year also the board exams had been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic and the students were assessed based on internal assessment.

The state education secretary Rajeev Sharma said that the Himachal Pradesh Government postponed the ongoing state board exams for Classes 10 and 12 in the wake of the rising COVID-19 cases. The situation will be reviewed at the government level on May 1 and further directions will be issued accordingly, he said.

The Maharashtra Government had on Monday postponed the state board exams of Classes 10 and 12, which were scheduled to be held later this month. The state government would study and discuss the CBSE’s move of cancelling its Class 10 exam before taking any such decision for the state education board exams, minister Varsha Gaikwad said on Wednesday.

The Madhya Pradesh Board of Secondary Education declared the postponement of the examinations of Classes 10 and 12. The exams of the high school, higher secondary and diploma in pre-school education (vocational course) were scheduled to begin from April 30 and May 1. The exams are likely to be conducted from the first week of June and the board will soon issue a new amended schedule, a spokesperson of the state board said.

The Rajasthan Government also determined to postpone the state education board examinations for Classes 10 and 12. The decision was taken by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot after discussions with Education Minister Govind Singh Dotasra because of the second wave of coronavirus infection, the state government said in a statement.

Chhattisgarh Government had earlier put off Class 10 exams which were scheduled to begin on April 15.

Tamil Nadu too, in February, cancelled Class 10 exams.

In Meghalaya, the state board will hold Class 12 examinations as per schedule with utmost care to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said. The state government has asked parents not to panic and to allow students to appear for the examinations scheduled to begin on April 16, he said. He said the state government is waiting for an update of the review conducted by Additional Chief Secretary D P Wahlang, in charge of education, for holding Class 10 examinations.

West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said a suitable decision will be taken giving preference to the health of students. The exams are scheduled to start in June “The government will certainly take a decision in the interest of students at the appropriate time considering the COVID-19 situation,” he told reporters.

In Karnataka, State Primary and Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar said the state government has not taken any decision on cancelling the state board class 10 exams. In a statement, he said no decision like the CBSE has been taken. But, keeping in view the situation in the future, a suitable decision would be taken, the Minister was quoted as saying in the statement. Karnataka was among the few states, which had last year successfully conducted the 10th class and second-year pre-university exams even when the coronavirus cases were at its peak.

Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma, Uttar Pradesh, who also holds the portfolio of secondary education, said that the state is yet to decide whether it will go ahead with the board exams scheduled from May 8. “For the conduct of board examinations, there are 19 officials, of which 17 are infected with COVID-19, and are in hospital. As soon as they recover from the illness, we will hold consultations, and also speak to the chief minister. Then we will be able to say anything in the context of exams beginning on May 8,” Mr Sharma said.

The CBSE said it will analyse the situation on June 1 for holding Class 12 exams, while the result for Class 10 will be declared on basis of objective standards to be decided by the board. The exams were scheduled to begin on May 4.

India is seeing a coming back of COVID-19 positive cases in 16 states. The total number of active cases in India has increased to 13,65,704. Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala collectively account for 68.16 percent of India’s total active cases, the ministry said. Maharashtra alone accounts for 43.54 percent of the total number of active cases of the country. The others that are displaying an upward course in daily new cases are Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Kerala, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal Schools have been again shut down in 11 states due to the latest wave of infection.

“Unlike state boards, CBSE has an all-India character, and therefore, it is essential to hold exams simultaneously throughout the country. “Looking to the present situation of the pandemic and school closures, and also taking into account the safety and well-being of the students, the crucial decisions have been taken,” an official of the Union Education Ministry said. Several opposition leaders and a section of students and parents had been demanding that ‘offline’ board exams be cancelled due to the worsening pandemic situation.

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