‘Boards’: The word itself is enough to pique interest of people around you, be it friendly neighborhood uncle, the aunt who routinely calls just once a year, people who happen to eavesdrop on your conversation on the lift or your local grocery store owner. In our country, a student’s potential is judged by his board marks.
Undoubtedly, these scores are the passport to emancipation and students’ ticket to their dream college. The ever-increasing competition ensures that students fight tooth and nail to claim their seats at coveted institutions. With the pandemic wrecking havoc in all spheres of life, education too was not spared. Students had to make an overnight shift from physical to virtual classes.
Gone were the days of sitting with friends, friendly banters in the corridors, finishing homework minutes before submission and the tension of writing exams.
Amidst the uncertainty around health, life, death, virus mutations, vaccinations and what the future holds, the unpredictability regarding Board Exams has dampened the spirits of Class 12 students. Conventionally, board exams are conducted by the respective state boards, CBSE, and CISCE over a span of 2 months commencing from March.
The alarming rise in the number of coronavirus cases and acute countrywide distress led to these exams being postponed. This was rather expected, with the students being mentally prepared that exams would be conducted later when the situation improves. However, on June 1, 2021 the CBSE announced their decision to cancel the board examinations this year. CISCE followed suit soon after.
Prior to the announcement, the ambiguity regarding the fate of the 12th grade students was the topic of discussion and debate all around the country. Several state boards had announced their decision to conduct the exams, with some giving out the exam dates while others still contemplating whether conducting exams was an absolute necessity.
However, post the announcement by India’s two major educational boards, several states like Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, and Rajasthan announced cancellation of their respective state board examinations soon after.
Others, like West Bengal, which had previously declared that exams would be conducted in early July, have formed an expert panel to review their decision.
Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh board examinations are underway. The Chhattisgarh Board of Secondary Education (CGBSE) is conducting take-from-home examinations, where students are required to collect their question papers and answer sheets from school, take the exams at home and submit the answer scripts within 5 days.
The cancellation of board examinations in the country has had various experts, doctors, teachers, parents and students heave a sigh of relief as the repercussions of them being conducted could be disastrous. Even though the vaccination drive in India is eventually picking up pace, with both the center and state governments working round the clock to make vaccinations available to all adults, majority of the 12th grade students are still not eligible to get vaccinated.
Virologists are also predicting that this could be a major factor contributing to children being the most vulnerable in the third wave of corona virus. Moreover, the heterogenous curbs imposed by the states would make it difficult to uniformly conduct country wide exams. Hence, this decision was welcomed by most stakeholders.
The elephant that now remains in the room is: How are these 2.6 crore students going to be evaluated? Having established the importance and indispensability of a fair evaluation system, it is imperative that concrete objective criteria for awarding marks be determined.
Since these marks are the most important component of most college admissions, it is essential that this Batch of 2021 is not disadvantaged due to the ongoing pandemic. CBSE Secretary, Anurag Tripathi has announced that all details regarding the assessment structure are expected in two weeks.
Students cannot help but wonder what lies in store for them. This is a batch of students, that did not attend a single day of physical classes in their final year of school. They experienced anxiety, tension, and pressure of being in the 12th grade in the middle of a pandemic but had to forgo the experience of being the senior-most batch and making their last days in the school count.
Some people are guessing that marks may be awarded as an average of last 1-3 years performance, while others expect the boards to follow a formula in place for class 10 students’ evaluation. However, teachers are voicing their concerns about how these 12th grade exam results are more crucial for a student’s future career prospects than the 10th grade exams, rendering the same evaluation system faulty. With so many diverse suggestions of unbiased objective assessment, indeed it is a Herculean Task for the decision makers to select the most efficient and effective alternative.
However, if all efforts are not made to ensure the same, not only will students’ futures be harmed, but the country will also suffer due to the human resource mismanagement. If the brightest students are not picked up and incentivized, we as a country are at the risk of losing an entire generation of intelligentsia.
Written By – Shailee Sharda
Edited By – Aditi Agarwal
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