Amidst the Covid-causing coronavirus outbreak and school closures, students taking their Class X and Class XII board exam in 2021 have another reason to worry. Board examinations are likely to get postponed by a few weeks in the wake of the extended school lockdowns across the country.
Sources told Moneycontrol that the Class X and Class XII board examinations, which are typically held between February 20-April 10, will be postponed by four to five weeks. Meaning, the exams will begin by March end and conclude by mid-May 2021.
“The consensus right now is that schools will not be able to complete the academic portion by January since regular physical classes are yet to resume. The exact date to which the board exams will be postponed will be finalised by mid-December,” said a government official.
India had its early cases of Covid-19 in March 2020 following which schools were ordered to be shut during a nationwide lockdown. Board exams that were pending were also initially postponed and then cancelled as the virus outbreak worsened.
To avoid a similar situation, the Centre and States want to ensure that the board exams do not meet a similar fate in 2021.
How many students will be affected?
States have between 50,000 (Meghalaya) and 3 million (Uttar Pradesh) students appearing for the Class X board examination every year under state education 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. This board is likely to take a decision closer to the exams next year.
Putting safety first
Apart from the concerns around completing the academic portion on time, there are fears about the virus intensifying in the winter months, between December and March. Hence, the administration wants to take a cautious stance since it is logistically impossible to have home-based tests for Class X and Class XII.
“Students will have to visit physical examination centres to write these tests. Though there is some experience with JEE 2020 and NEET 2020, which were conducted amidst Covid-19, the numbers are far higher in the individual State and central board examinations. We want to avoid any widespread outbreak,” added another official handling school education.
In Karnataka, for example, close to 34 students tested Covid positive after they were made to attend physical classes in schools.
The JEE and NEET exams had staggered exam shifts as also arranged for a higher number of exam centres to maintain physical distancing. However, this may not be feasible for the board examinations considering the number of students is at least 4-5 times higher.
A few States are also looking to cancel pre-tests, which are the qualifying examinations to give the Class X and Class XII board exam. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on November 11 that the pre-board exams for 2021 in the State will be cancelled.
How will students be impacted?
A delay in the board examinations will lead to a delay in declaration of the results. This could affect the higher education prospects of those who are planning to go abroad for higher education.
The Class XII board examination scores determines the higher education institution that a candidate will be eligible for. For competitive exams like JEE as well, it is necessary to have completed the Class XII examination.
Typically, for admissions to the 23 IITs, students need to qualify through the JEE Advanced exam and also need to score either a minimum of 75 percent in Class XII or be among the top 20 percentile in their board exams. This board exam score criteria was dropped in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) was among the education boards that had cancelled examinations
for the remaining Class XII papers 0in the wake of the pandemic. The exams were postponed in March once the lockdown was announced to contain the virus.