SG Shravan Kumar, a 16-year-old Class X student in Mysuru, Karnataka, purchased a second-hand phone in 2021. The phone was just to get instant updates about his board examinations. And as expected, his phone doesn’t stop buzzing with notifications about the upcoming board exams.
As soon as the education ministry announced on April 14 that the CBSE Class X 2021 board examinations will be cancelled, similar questions were raised by Kumar and his classmates on their state board examinations.
Fake messages circulated that their board exams, too, have been cancelled. However, the Karnataka government later clarified that the examinations will be held as per the original schedule in June 2021.
Ever since the second wave of COVID-19 hit India, students appearing for board examinations are the worst-hit. On the one hand, there is uncertainty around the board exams, while, on the other, there are fears of delays impacting their higher education plans.
On April 14, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank announced that the CBSE Class X 2021 board exams have been cancelled while CBSE Class XII Board Exam 2021 has been postponed.
The Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) that conducts the ISC and ICSE examinations is likely to announce its decision on the board exams on April 15.
What are other state boards doing?
Other state boards, including West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, are yet to decide on whether to postpone the board examinations for Classes X and XII scheduled for May and June. Uttar Pradesh state government has said that board examinations will be held after May 20 but has not given any schedule.
The Punjab state board has decided to promote Class X students while a decision on Class XII is awaited. Similarly, Meghalaya has also cancelled Class X board exams while Class XII will be held as per schedule from April 16.
Maharashtra and Rajasthan are among the state governments that have taken a decision to postpone the board examinations. However, fresh dates are yet to be announced.
Shamina Siddiqui, a 17-year-old student of the state board in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, said that unnecessary delays in declaring the final schedule is leading to concerns about her higher education.
“I am planning to move to Mumbai from Class IX onwards. If there is a delay in the results, I am worried that admissions may close. Worse still, if the exams are cancelled, I wonder if Maharashtra institutes will accept my scores since I am from a different state,” she said.
The Madhya Pradesh board exams are scheduled to be held from April 30. The state has 3,63,000 total COVID-19 positive cases, with 4,312 official deaths.
For students, other expenses are also rising due to the delay in exam schedules. Mary Guruswamy, a 17-year-old student from Idaikal village in Tenkasi, Tamil Nadu, studies at a state board school in Chennai. For her, the hostel fees are on the rise while there is no certainty on exam dates.
"If they give us one final schedule, I can either stay back or go home. Why should I keep paying hostel fees?" she added.
Class X students may see relief
Taking a cue from CBSE, it is likely that Class X examinations across all state boards will be cancelled. Here, students will be marked based on their internal assessments and performance in the previous terms.
States have between 50,000 (Meghalaya) and 3 million (Uttar Pradesh) students appearing for the Class X examination every year under state boards. Over and above this, close to 1.5-1.8 million students appear for the CBSE Class X board examination every year.
As for Class XII, about 16,500 (Nagaland) to 2.6 million (Uttar Pradesh) appear for these exams every year. The CBSE has close to 1.5 million students taking the Class XII board examination each year.
ISC has close to 87,000 students appearing for Class XII and about 200,000 for the ICSE Class X examination.