Since results of most of the state board final examinations are already declared, only CBSE and ISC students will suffer due to the delay in exams.
The human resource development ministry (MHRD) is likely to announce a final decision on holding the examinations for the remaining papers of CBSE Class XII, as well as competitive tests like NEET and JEE (Main), in the next three days. While these examinations were to be held in July 2020, the worsening of the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in India has forced the MHRD to take a re-look.
Similarly, the Council for Indian School Certification Examinations (CISCE) is likely to announce a final decision on the internal marking system for the ICSE, ISC exams. Here, students have been given an option - either write the examinations for missed subjects in July 2020 or be given a grade, based on their pre-board performance in those subjects.
Industry experts told Moneycontrol that this is the best possible solution considering that the coronavirus situation in India could continue for the next few months. If examinations are delayed any longer, it will take longer to declare results impacting the higher education prospects of students.
What is the examination schedule?
As far as ISC Class XII is concerned, papers like Biology Theory, Business Studies, Geography, Psychology, Sociology, Home Science Theory, Elective English and Craft were the ones pending. These are scheduled between July 1 and 14.
For ICSE Class X, subjects like Geography, Applied Art, Electives like fashion design, music, yoga, etc., Hindi, Biology and Economics Elective had pending examinations scheduled between July 2 and July 12.
However, students can now choose whether to appear for the remaining examinations or opt for grading based on past assessments. Considering that only a few subjects are pending, parents and students are of the view that cancellation is the safest option, especially given the COVID-19 curve is yet to flatten in India.
Vanitha Subburaman, parent of Mumbai-based Class X student Ananya, said that considering safety issues, it is best for the schools to cancel the exams.
“Ananya’s school has given guardians the option to choose and we chose to opt out. However, some schools are forcing students to mandatory say 'yes' to physical exams which could be risky,” she added.
Similarly, Delhi-based school teacher Surabhi Chawla is of the view that each student would have only missed one or two papers and hence internal assessments can be used.
Meanwhile, states like Maharashtra are yet to give their view on whether students will be permitted to write physical examinations for the pending subjects. Maharashtra has 1,32,075 confirmed COVID-19 cases of which 60,161 are active cases.
The Maharashtra government has cancelled the remaining state board examinations as well as the regular final term college examinations. However, since education is on the concurrent list, the state government's permission to conduct examinations locally is necessary for CBSE and ISC/ICSE boards.
An active campaign on social media has been running since May 2020 primarily by parents asking schools to cancel the remaining paper examinations. A public interest litigation was also filed at the Bombay High Court by an advocate and father of a Class X student. The PIL wanted exams to be cancelled and also sought that internal assessment marks should be used for grading students by CISCE.
When it comes to CBSE, the exams for Class XII were rescheduled to be held between July 1 and July 15. These included subjects like Home Science, Hindi, Computer Science, Sociology, Geography among others.
A separate list for North-East Delhi students was also released. These students could not sit for their examinations in February 2020 due to the violence.
Javed Usmaan, a Class XII student from Tamil Nadu, told Moneycontrol that his aunt passed away due to coronavirus and that his family is apprehensive about him going to an exam centre.
“I am planning to pursue a course in engineering and for that my Class XII marksheet will be essential for the JEE Advanced exam. But considering the pandemic, will the government give any assurance about safety,” he asked.
What will be the impact on students?
The board examination results are essential for applying for competitive examinations like JEE. To be eligible for JEE Advanced, a student must have either scored at least 75 percent in the Class XII examination or be in the top 20 percentile of successful candidates in the board examination.
If there is a further delay in the CBSE/ISC examinations, students stand to suffer. Without having the relevant marksheet scores, students will not be able to pursue regular undergraduate courses in arts, commerce or science as well as specialised ones like medicine or engineering.
For instance, Delhi University which had begun its online admission process for all its courses on June 20 has allowed students to update their CBSE marks once the results are declared. If the Class XII exams are postponed to a further date in August or September, for instance, students will lose out.
Pune-based Class XII student Danielle Lobo is of the view that candidates from state boards stand to benefit.
“Results of most of the state board final examinations have been declared. It is only us, CBSE and ISC students, who will be at a disadvantage if the exams keep getting postponed,” he added. Lobo plans to apply to Delhi University for a political science course.
A DU official told Moneycontrol that while some considerations would be given to students considering the pandemic, candidates would need to present their marksheet at least before the final cut-off is announced.
The same goes for students who have written their Class X examinations. Students are worried that schools and colleges (Class XI and XII are considered junior college in states like Maharashtra) may not be willing to extend admission dates.
The Class X marks are used as a cut-off for offering admission to Class XI. Those failing to present their marksheet may not get extensions in case board examinations get deferred.
For students planning to apply abroad, there is still time till November/December to submit their final marksheets. This extension is being offered by most of the leading international educational institutes in the US, Europe and Asia in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Till the student submits the marksheet, he or she is given a provisional admission. However, in case they are not able to submit even after the final extension the admission would be cancelled.
There is a small group of students who want to give examinations to have a better grade or because he/she has missed past assessments.
For example, two students have sent a petition to a Kolkata-based school to allow them to have online internal assessments since these candidates missed out on a few pre-board tests last year due to family emergencies.
“The board officials also need to make it clear as to what happens if a student was sick and missed the pre-board tests. On what basis will the final assessment will then be made and is there also a chance of a student being failed because of that?” asked Mumbai-based education consultant Prateek Salunkhe.Given the current circumstances, both educational institutes and students concur that a further delay is something that will be detrimental to candidates’ academic future. The MHRD’s decision providing parity for all board examinations is awaited.