In Maharashtra, the uncertainty regarding the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education’s (MHBSHSE) higher secondary certificate (HSC) class 12 board exams is causing anxiety amongst the 13 lakh students who will be writing their exams this year. Postponing the HSC exams, the state’s education minister, Varsha Gaikwad (on 20 April), announced the exams would be held by May-end and assured students new dates would be announced soon. However, students are still awaiting announcements regarding the revised dates.
HSC exams which are generally held in February-March were postponed to 23 April-21 May this year in view of the surge in COVID-19 infections in the state. Later as the government announced restrictions as a measure to curb infections in the state, the education ministry declared a further delay in conducting the HSC exam.
As the state and the country faces its worst medical crisis struggling with the second wave of the pandemic, there is a growing concern about the HSC exams being held in a safe environment. Making their concerns public through social media platforms using hashtags like ‘Justice for class 12 students’, students have been demanding a fair and quick decision on the fate of the exams. The demands range from conducting online exams for all to cancellation of exams while using non-exam routes like alternate assessments to determine results.
“More than anything, we want a final decision from the government. There is too much stress just waiting to know if we will be writing our papers or not. We have been preparing for our class 12 exams for more than a year now and would really want to get over with it, but it has to be in a safe environment. We also realise these exams are important with regards to applying for professional courses or for those seeking admissions to under-graduate courses in universities abroad all of which require class 12 results submissions. So the education department should give students the option to choose between writing exams or being assessed on the basis of internal assessments alone. If students are to write exams, it should be conducted at the earliest since any delay will affect our preparations for other entrance exams,” says Mohini Surkar, a class 12 student.
Many parents believe the state government will take a call only after other national boards like the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), make announcements regarding class 12 exams. However, both the national boards are likely to review the COVID situation in the state in the first week of June before taking a decision. However, parents of HSC board students feel the state government should be taking its decisions factoring the problems faced by its students.
“I prefer the exams being cancelled and internal assessments alone being the basis of evaluation as online exams too would require the students to go to the examination centres. With a high number of infections being reported from different areas, it would be difficult for all students to step out of homes this year,” adds Kavita Sudhakar, a parent.
However, college principals and educators point out that internal assessments alone may not be a fair method of evaluation since most students focus on scoring in the written exam instead of submissions and assignments etc. while preparing for class 12 exams. In a year when the teaching happened online, it would be unfair to judge students on the basis of internal assessments alone. They further point out that in the absence of standardised assessment, a large number of students will be at a disadvantage during admissions to degree college.
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