Explained: Board exams postponed, what the issue is all about

The delay in the board exams mean that results would be declared in July/August and the admission process start in the last week of August/September. The new academic session would likely begin by third week of October followed by a Diwali break.

January 08, 2021 / 03:22 PM IST
(Representative image)

(Representative image)

The recent date sheet issued by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) for Class 10 and 12 gives a sigh of relief to schools and students as it allows them to cover the remaining syllabus, however, colleges aren’t happy with the new dates.

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak and vaccination process that will commence next week, the central government decided to push the board exam by a few months. Similarly, states like West Bengal will also be postponing the Class X and XII board exams on account of the upcoming assembly elections.

Typically, the board exams begin in the last week of February and conclude by April. The results are declared in May and college admissions begin immediately after this. Once the admission process concludes, the new academic session begins by end of June or first week of July.

But the delay this time would mean that results would be declared in July/August and the admission process across universities would begin in last week of August/September, subsequently, the new academic session would likely begin by third week of October followed by a Diwali break.

Colleges want that the board exams be conducted in an online-offline hybrid model in March/April so that the academic calendar is not altered again. In 2020, the academic year began only on November 1 in colleges owing to the Coronavirus outbreak and the resultant lockdown.

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 Why was the exam date pushed?

Due to the lockdown and schools moving online, the CBSE had cut the 2021 board exam syllabus for Class X and XII by 33 percent. This was due to fears that the syllabus wouldn’t be completed on time.

Following this, CBSE and the education ministry had sought feedback from students, schools and teachers on conducting the exams in 2021 amidst the Coronavirus outbreak. The consensus was that the exams need to be postponed since COVID-19 infection risks are still high.

Every year, close to 1.5 million students write the CBSE Class XII board examinations and 1.8 million students appear for the CBSE Class X board examinations.

In 2020, CBSE was among the education boards that had cancelled examinations for the remaining Class XII papers in the wake of the pandemic. The exams were postponed in March once the lockdown was announced to contain the virus.

To avoid similar situations in 2021, the exam dates have been pushed two months. The state governments are also expected to follow suit and tweak their exam dates accordingly.

What is the view of colleges?

As reported by Moneycontrol, colleges fear that a delay in the board exam schedule will lead to a crunched academic session for the second year in a row.

The concern is that board exam delays would lead to higher education institutes losing up to three months of classes which mean students would have to make up for these lost classes on their own.

If classes begin in October end, there will be a Diwali vacation of about one to two weeks immediately after that. By the time classes resume, it will be time for the one-week Christmas break.

Even for holding semester exams in January 2022, these colleges wouldn’t have covered adequate academic syllabus. The only option would be to cancel Diwali and Christmas vacations which may not be acceptable to students.

Colleges want the government to have an examination structure wherein some papers could be written from home via AI-led remote proctoring and practical exams can be given in individual schools, shift-wise, during weekdays and also weekends.

Considering that the schedule has been accepted by all CBSE schools across India, there is unlikely to be a chance in the 2021 board exam schedule.

Will students lose out?

While students writing board, exams are rejoicing over the shift in dates, those vying for an international degree may lose out. Countries like Australia, China, Italy, Germany, France and New Zealand complete the admission process by July and students are required to submit their Class XII marksheets by then.

An exception was made in 2020 by universities globally on account of the Coronavirus outbreak but no such flexibility will be available in 2021.

So, for students planning to go abroad, only countries like the US and UK will be available as an option to apply.
M Saraswathy is a business journalist with 10 years of reporting experience. Based in Mumbai, she covers consumer durables, insurance, education and human resources beat for Moneycontrol.

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