A high-level meeting chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today on conducting class 12 board exams remains inconclusive. In the meeting, the government had proposed two options for holding class 12 exams to states, while some states agreed with the options proposed some decline and stated that exams should not be conducted amidst the pandemic, sources revealed.
Sources present in the meeting informed CNN News18 that the central government put forth two proposals before the states. One of the proposals was to reduce the examination time from a period of three hours to an hour and a half. The other proposal was to reduce the number of exams and conduct papers only on a few subjects. In the second scenario, for the remaining subjects marks were to be given based on an internal assessment by the school. While several states were in agreement with the Centre and opined that they can consider holding class 12 exams somewhere around September or when the Covid cases would recede, other states disagreed.
States including Maharashtra and the national capital Delhi were of the opinion that there should be no examination in the midst of the pandemic at all. In fact, the education minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia held a press conference right after the meeting and said, “there are 1.5 crore children in the whole country who are studying in 12th standard. Amidst the danger of the third wave, the Delhi government believes that we should not hold exams at risk of messing with the safety of children. We are not in the favour of conducting the examination.”
While Chhattisgarh has decided to hold exams from home for class 12 students, Assam Education Minister Ranuj Pegu who attended today’s meeting told CNN News18, “The meeting was very positive and we are hoping for a synchronized effort for everyone keeping the interest of students in mind, however, we are hopeful that a similar model should opt for both state and Central level board exams so that a level playing field is available for all students.”
Present in the meeting Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren said that it is important that the exams are conducted after the second wave of Covid subsides. Soren was also of the opinion that it is important to understand the mental state of affairs of students and also seek their feedback and suggestions before arriving at any decision
“I am glad that the issue is being discussed by the Centre with all the states while I welcome the suggestions for reducing the subjects and reducing the timing of the examination I would request the central government to be sensitive towards the timing of the exams considering that a lot of children have lost their parents in the second wave of Covid-19. This will be a very difficult time for them if they have to appear for exams now. We need to be sensitive towards their mental frame of mind and conduct an examination only when the Covid Waze is over," Soren said in the meeting.
Covid is currently raging in the country and vaccination seems to be India’s biggest challenge right now especially vaccinating of the young population. Many states express the reservation about risking the lives of children and even those in class 12 by sending them to an examination centre without vaccination. They urged the central government to open up vaccines for students age 15 and above and also to ensure all those teachers and invigilators and the staff would be present at the examination centre must be vaccinated just like vaccines have been available to the young and the vulnerable sections including students in countries like the United States. Ministers present in the meeting were told that their sentiments regarding vaccination would be conveyed to the concerned ministry.
It may be noted that no decision was arrived at in this particular meeting. Sources say Rajnath Singh told those present that this was a meeting to get ideas and to exchange views of the various stakeholders, however, the feedback would be shared with the higher-ups in the government. It is also being said that the feedback of today will be shared with the Prime Minister’s office and in the coming days a decision will be arrived at. CBSE too will be doing a review as scheduled on June 1 to check the feasibility of holding the examinations.
The meeting was attended by Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, and education ministers of states and UTs along with senior officers from the education department and CBSE officials.
Among those present in the meeting included Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, Education Minister for Uttar Pradesh Dinesh Sharma, Education Minister for Delhi Manish Sisodia, Ranuj Pegu education minister for Assam, Goa CM Pramod Sawant amongst others.