Why offline exams should be cancelled during pandemic
When the second wave of Covid 19 has tightened its claws, the country is witnessing an unprecedented situation of high death toll and fatality rate. Though there are reports of the peak being passed, the decline as we see is considerably slow. The government decision to hold board exams in the midst of this intense virus spread is gathering much criticism. The PIL filed in SC on behalf of students seeking cancellation of exams have been accepted for hearing on May 31. Let’s have a look at the facts on how it becomes relevant in the present scenario.
• The exam centres can be possible hotspots that can trigger a early third wave
• Exposing the students to virus pose high risk to their lives
• Quality coaching has not been imparted and portions not fully covered
• Lack of proper infrastructure to hold offline exams during the virus spread
• Delay in exams will reduce the duration of next academic year
• Admission to foreign universities will be denied for inability to submit final result on time
• Students face discrimination as class 10 exams are cancelled due to the same pandemic
• Several state boards substituting home exams and internal assessment for exams causes unfair treatment of students across different boards
• Prolonged academic year, uncertainty regarding future creates severe mental trauma in students
• The highest court has taken the matter for urgent hearing considering the severity of the situation
• Boards of other countries have already cancelled the exams leaving the Indian students at disadvantage
• Doctors and Educationists strongly advise against offline exams
• Prominent leaders and organisations have written to the PM and education ministry in support of students
• Lives matter than Exams
• Children infected or lost family members find it difficult to overcome the trauma
• No discussions with students or parents who are stakeholders
•Mental Heath of students is of prime importance
• Vaccinations still not planned for students
The students of different boards have been running a campaign in platforms like Twitter and Change.org demanding cancellation of board exams owing to restrictions and reasons related to Covid conditions existing in the country. The plight of students of class XII especially belonging to CBSE board is evident in their tweets as the government plans to go ahead with physical exams during the peak of pandemic. 2.5 Lakh cases per day is no less a number to be taken lightly.
The unity and coordination among the student-parent community reiterates the genuineness of the issue during a lockdown like situation when meeting each other is impossible. The petition in Change.org has gained the support of more than 6 lakh people. The hashtags demanding cancellation of exams have been trending several times in Twitter too. Simultaneously the government without consultation with student representatives, held discussions with state officials about the possibilities of conducting exams offline and has shortlisted two options.
It is to be seriously noted that the children are undergoing high stress, agony as well as mental fatigue due to the fear of virus exposure and also lack of quality coaching throughout the year. The question from their side is how can they focus on exams with a clear mind while concentrating on Covid protocols. One can’t really blame the students for their question if exams are important than their lives.
Quite naturally the kids raise the concerns of being discriminated as the class 10 exams have been cancelled and results are being declared on the basis of internal assessment. According to them there a no reason to believe that class XII students are resistant to virus. Parents have also come up in full support to students as they consider sending their wards out of homes is dangerous. The contradictory stand of the government forcing the students out of their homes for exam itself invites dissent from all quarters as the slogan for the whole nation is ‘Stay at home, Stay safe’.
As per the media, state boards including that of CGBSE, CISCE, UP, Maha, Delhi have already decided to cancel exams and provide home exams or internal assessment procedure to their candidates which would leave CBSE students in pathetic state due to unfair treatment where they would be left considerably behind in performance with the stressful and newly altered offline exam pattern on short notice when their counterparts give open book exams. The proposed new pattern of exam is not being much favoured as fresh preparations are required after being in the same class for more than a year.
It is of common knowledge that no institutions can guarantee 100% compliance of Covid protocol which again will contribute to push the kids to highest exposure to virus In exam centres. Teachers and staff on exam duty will be drastically affected too. The country has witnessed what happened after the elections and do we really need a repetition of that? When the whole world stays at home for safety from infection, these unfortunate people are forced to spend hours in exam centres that might turn to be virus hotspots.
To ensure equal opportunity to all, results can be declared using Internal assessment method or by calculating the average marks of previous year performances of the students without any harm to anyone whatsoever, then why unnecessarily create a risk for the lives of students! The whole aim is to find another amicable way of assessing the knowledge of candidates as ‘pen and paper’ tests cannot be the sole method to declare results at any point of time. Assignments or project work can also be used for evaluation.
A PIL filed in the SC has been accepted for hearing on May 31. Meanwhile, the government is all set to declare date sheet by May 30.
Around 300 students and parents have also written to CJI citing urgent resolution of the issue. Another letter by around 8000 parents also have been sent to CJI separately, says news reports.
The big problem here is when most other countries have cancelled exams in favour of their students, in India a stubbornness to hold exams though conditions are not favourable is noticed.
The tentative dates for offline exams are from July to Aug which means the results will be published after atleast a month. This will delay and shorten the first academic year of the courses the students get enrolled into. Many candidates who eye for foreign universities to secure higher education would be denied admission as they cannot submit their final results on time.
The need of the hour is to ensure safety, health and lives of children as no exam can be important than the lives of people in the country. Prevention is anyhow better than trying to cure after damage is done. This is an issue of significance where egos and politics need to be left behind and the whole country has to come forward to take care of it’s future generation to avert possible complications. Vaccination process not planned for students is another area of concern.
Moreover saving the mental and physical well-being of students from deterioration is equally important as physical health. As already mentioned, students are going through severe mental trauma, anxiety and insecurities as a result of the decisions imposed against their collective will arising out of worst circumstances harming their lives and future, even after genuine efforts to cope. Appropriate care should be taken to ensure good mental health for our youth and to encourage their growth as clearly thinking citizens .
The matter no doubt is of urgent nature and national concern hence the huge uproar on behalf of the students and parents to cancel offline board exams and to declare the result using any alternative method this year, which does not require physical presence of candidates. The student community remains hopeful that the highest organ of judiciary will intervene to avoid any unpleasant decisions affecting their lives because, there is future only when there is life. If students have to be the light of tomorrow, let them see the life of tomorrow!
(The author is Chairperson CSA, Director TGL, Sr Director FWO, Editor Intl Journal)