After months of torment for the students appearing in the Maharashtra board examinations, there’s another news. On Monday, the state education ministry announced the postponement of the examinations for class 10 and 12 students which were supposed to be conducted starting April 23. While the fresh dates are yet to be announced, the estimate is by end of May to June.
Varsha Gaikwad, the school education minister of the state tweeted saying, “Your health is our priority” while announcing the news to the masses. This comes after Maharashtra becomes the worst affected state in the country. As per recent stats, the state recorded 63,294 plus new cases while the total number of deaths is 349 that’s 57,987 deaths in total to date. The ministry reasoned the postponement as “present circumstances are not conducive for holding exams”.
Last month, several parents of state board school children wrote several letters for considering ‘online’ exams instead of offline or physical exams. Even after students staging several protested regarding the same demand, authorities turned a blind eye towards it.
Last week the same ministry announced ‘cancellation of exams’ for students from class 1 to 9 and class 11 as well. This means these students will be passed to the next grade without any examination. Board exam students demand the same thing for them as well.
Most of the entrance examinations for professional courses that children attempt after class 12 exams are scheduled in the late weeks of May to June and July. Students who want to enrol in foreign universities or Indian universities too have their entrance exams around the same time. This will be a stressor given the clash of dates between board exams and nearing entrance examinations. “It makes no sense to postpone board exams. People have NEET and JEE ahead of them as well. They started preparing and now this news! Also, the situation isn’t going to be really normal and it isn’t going to be safe for students even in May or June. Cancel the exams or offer 1+ attempts,” said a Twitter user on Gaikwad’s post.
If the situation continues, like 2020, even the 2021 academic calendar will face similar discrepancies. “I was really hoping to prepare for my university entrances after getting done with 12th boards. I don’t know how to express how much more stressed I’ve become after you declared postponing them. I’ve given up on everything now,” another tormented student/Twitter user tweeted.
As if Gaikwad foresaw student’s reaction regarding entrance, she clarified, “Keeping in mind the schedule of entrance exams for professional courses, class 12 exams will be held by the end of May, while class 10 students will be in June. Fresh dates for these exams will be announced as the health situation.”
A different solution for this situation is online examinations. Since the pandemic plus the lockdown began, students across the nation have been attending classes, tests, orals, lectures, seminars through the internet. Several schools, not state board, tried their hands on online examinations mode, which to an extent, was a success. Parents and other experts suggest a similar model to the state board examinations instead of a physical form of exams.
“If we can do everything in an online format, why not exams? Government and the board officials had all the time in the world since January 2021 where they could have prepared a system for online exams and allotment of students which could have been successful if implemented properly,” said Ravi Krishnaprakash, a parent of a class 12 student. Krishna Prakash who is a part of an IT company even suggested the same idea to the kid’s school which never saw any light. “While they had time to do something practical and constructional, they were busy being adamant about conducting offline exams,” the parent added who resides in Goregaon, Mumbai.
Along with the state board exams, the Maharashtra government has requested the Central Board of Secondary Examinations (CBSE), Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), International Baccalaureate (IB) and Cambridge boards to reconsider their exam schedules. However, in the case of CBSE exams, the board has refused to make any more changes in the dates or exam pattern.
At present Maharashtra has a partial lockdown imposed along with night-time curfews. State officials have warned that if the current situation does not change then the state may go under a complete lockdown.