By Dr. Chandrashekar DP, Author, Speaker and Edupreneur, CEO,JGI Schools
Covid has not been easy on anyone. We all have had our share of hardships. The students are no exception. They have been burdened with a load of depending on the Internet rather than their teachers. Now that after all the hustle, the time to deliver what they have learned came, the pandemic took a sudden surge. Prioritizing students’ health over their class XII exams, CBSE cancelled the examination. The decision to cancel the crucial Class XII public examination and replace it with an objective assessment for certification will help boards of education in the States to move in the same direction. This step by CBSE was soon reverbed by various other boards as ISC, Gujarat State Board et cetera.
The Questions of the Hour
However, this decision has a lot more in it. There is a greater dilemma attached to it. The two big questions which arise after the statements issued by the boards remain as:
- What will be the evaluating criteria for Class XII students now that the exams are already called off?
- How will the students get to take admissions into various colleges in which Class XII marks play an important role?
- How do we prevent this from repeating itself in the future?
The questions are big and left untouched. While we can be sure that the boards must be coming up with some solution, students’ desperation to know all about it is justified.
An Iceberg-sized Impact
The impact of both the questions buzzing at the hour is bigger than what they actually seem to be as an iceberg.
We have already been surprised by the news of false accreditations in the past in the evaluation process of board examinations. Now that, there is no examination taking place, will it be fair to all? An iota of error due to any reason in the subjective evaluation of a student’s marks will have a very extensive effect on the future of the student.
The evaluation process can also be changed to the basis of the performance of the students in the previous exams. However, we all know that the students prepare harder for the final examinations rather than mid-term examinations.
‘Will all the hard work done now mean nothing now?’ This is the question through which every student is going through right now.
Some pointers to an assessment scheme can be found in the CBSE’s submission to the Supreme Court last year, when the pandemic prevented the completion of Class XII examinations: for students who could not take the examination, as in Delhi, the internal, practical, and project assessment was proposed as a proxy to arrive at results, with an option to improve performance at a subsequent examination. The Board must now come up with a model scientific scheme.
The next important question is regarding, ‘What now?’
The decision to cancel the examination in 2021 may have resolved a prickly issue, but the question of national entrance examinations – such as NEET and JEE – need to be addressed.
Many post-class XII courses in reputable universities give admission on merit based on Class XII marks. Will they continue doing so even if the exams are cancelled now.
Till now, Delhi University has come forward to say that they will still be giving admissions on a merit basis.
Even the exams which require an entrance exam have a cut-off mark to admit the students. Will the decision not impact the entrance exams of these colleges?
The next important question is regarding, ‘What next?’
The centre must recognize that major factors such as non-availability of enough vaccine doses, absence of a systematic vaccine coverage plan, and poor understanding of where virus variants are spreading, contributed to the second wave, and may, in fact, cause a third.
For instance, there is a better comprehension in Britain of where the variant of concern initially isolated from India, B.1.617.2, is spreading in that country because it has a robust genome sequencing programme. Such sharp insight, together with the availability of free and widespread testing, is crucial to stop waves of infections that threaten to hobble the country.
The plight of students, which is engaging governments, has to become a top priority. Singapore has just approved mRNA vaccine coverage for children 12 years and older, just as the U.S regulator FDA has for 12 to 15-year-olds. Britain has thought of 100 extra tuition hours for schools from 2022. There cannot be an interminable wait for vaccines to trickle down to all.
Nothing can be said until now. We are left with a plethora of predictions and no choice but to wait for further announcements.
However, the only good impact of the decision will be that our students will be safe and sound enough to look at the open doors