Opposition joins call to cancel board exams

The Shiksha Sadan which houses the CBSE at Rouse Avenue in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: V.V. Krishnan

Opposition politicians have joined the chorus of student voices worried about board examinations being held amid the surge of COVID-19 cases. Congress leaders called for cancellation of exams to be considered, warning that the Centre would hold legal liability if exam centres became hotspots. The Shiv Sena asked the Centre to institute a uniform national policy on the examinations, so as not to put at a disadvantage the students in States which have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

More than 1.5 lakh people tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, setting a new record, and exacerbating the worries of many students, parents and teachers who garnered almost two lakh signatures for a petition demanding that the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) cancel board examinations. The hashtag #cancelboardexam2021 has been trending on Twitter for several days, recording over five lakh tweets on Sunday.

‘Consult stakeholders’

Congress MP and senior leader Rahul Gandhi urged that their concerns be taken into account. “In the light of the devastating Corona second wave, conducting #CBSE exams must be reconsidered. All stakeholders must be consulted before making sweeping decisions,” he tweeted on Sunday, referring to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). “On how many counts does GOI [or Government of India] intend to play with the future of India’s youth?” he added.

His sister and fellow Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wrote to Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank on Sunday, saying their apprehensions were well-founded. “By forcing the children to sit for the exams during a raging pandemic, the government and the CBSE Board will be held responsible in the event that any of the exam centres prove to be hotspots at which large numbers of children become infected with the disease,” she wrote, asking if the Centre was prepared to “own the legal liability”.

Noting that State governments are banning large assemblies of people, she asked on what “moral grounds” young children alone could be asked to assemble for examinations. Apart from physical health consequences, their mental and psychological health could be affected by the pressure of writing exams “under the spectre of a deadly disease”, donning masks and gloves, she said.

In Maharashtra, which has seen the most serious spikes, the State government has indicated it is considering a cancellation of State board exams. Shiv Sena leader and South Mumbai MP Arvind Sawant wrote to the Union Education Minister on Saturday, asking for a nationwide policy decision, so that there is “no discrimination of safety measures or of opportunity” between students of different States. “A unilateral decision by any State would lead to the students of that particular State being at a disadvantage career and opportunity wise. Your intervention would mean national consensus,” he told Mr. Nishank.

Neither the Education Ministry nor the CBSE responded to The Hindu’s requests for comment.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 1:51:59 PM |

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