States submit feedback on Class 12 exams

CBSE has all-India character, so we need States’ support for any decision: Central official

Class 12 students of the Central Board of Secondary Education will find out the date and format of their board examinations in a week’s time, with State governments submitting their feedback to the Centre on Tuesday.

Senior Education Ministry officials claimed that the feedback was overwhelmingly in favour of conducting the examinations, although they said States were split on whether the examinations should be in the regular three-hour format or the reduced 90-minute, multiple choice question format. However, a senior Ministry official said no response had yet been received by Tuesday evening from Maharashtra, a major dissenter from the consensus, which had called for examinations to be cancelled.

Call for vaccinations

Punjab and Delhi have both called for vaccinations to be conducted before the examinations are held. Punjab Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla wrote to the Centre on Tuesday, urging that all Class 12 students be vaccinated before exams are started, adding that exams be held in selected, essential subjects only, with shorter question papers. “The examinations should not be conducted until the safety of all stakeholders are ensured,” he said. Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has already said that if vaccinations could not be done, examinations must be cancelled.

Several other Congress-ruled States, however, are prepared for the examinations to go forward. Rajasthan has chosen the first option offered by the Centre, preferring to conduct the regular three-hour examinations, according to the State’s Education Secretary Aruna Arora. Chhattisgarh has chosen to go with a controversial open book format for its own State board examinations, but said it would follow whatever the Centre decides with regard to the CBSE exams, according to the State’s Additional Secretary for Education Alok Shukla.

Tamil Nadu’s School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh told journalists that the State was prepared to conduct the examinations, but that it must be done keeping the pandemic situation in mind. Bihar Education Minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary said that while the Class 12 examinations play a vital role in students’ lives, they could not be held in the current situation. He suggested that a tentative date be announced for now, and also raised the possibility of an online examination.

Karnataka’s School Education Minister S. Suresh Kumar said that as Class 12 students would be seeking admission to professional courses, holding examinations seemed inevitable. “After the COVID-19 situation eases, some form of simplified examination process will be necessary,” he said, adding that question papers for a simplified examination had already been prepared in the State, and the number of examination centres were being increased for the conduct of a safe examination. However, with regard to the CBSE, the State simply indicated that it would follow whatever decision was taken by the Centre. A senior official from Uttar Pradesh also indicated the State would follow the Centre’s lead on CBSE exams.

“We have given them time to make their choice till tonight, so let us wait and see. The CBSE has an all-India character, so we need the support of States for any decision,” said a senior Central official. “For their own State board exams, States can take their own decisions. They can cancel their exams if they wish to. There is no uniform policy,” added the official.

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