New Delhi: Thousands of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Council for the Indian School Certificate Exams (CISCE) students are rallying together to call for the postponement of Class 10 and 12 board exams, which are scheduled to begin next month, in light of the ongoing surge in Covid-19 cases.
Disabled students enrolled with the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) also have a similar demand.
In the past 24 hours, there have been more than 550 petitions on Change.org — the online petition portal that allows internet users to mobilise around different causes — demanding that all offline exams be cancelled or postponed until after the pandemic. The petitions have together garnered an estimated 1.5 lakh signatures.
Students have also been using the hashtag “cancelboardexams2021” to raise their demand on Twitter. The hashtag #Cancelboardexams trended on Twitter Wednesday with nearly 7 lakh tweets.
If you can conduct Exams on the basis of online classes why not dare to conduct online exams.
Students life matters.
.#cancelboards2021#cancelcbseboards2021 #cancelboardexams2021#cancelboardexams pic.twitter.com/Gvf4qVRcf9
— BADBOY (@YASH6790) April 7, 2021
Mexico – 1300 cases
Saudi Arabia – 541 cases
— Mahesh Aghao 👑 (@MaheshAghao) April 7, 2021
The CBSE and the CISCE exams are both scheduled to start from 4 May. Neither board appears likely to cancel exams just yet.
Last week, when a notice from April 2020 regarding changes in exam schedule and format came into circulation, the CBSE clarified that it had not issued any new notification in this matter.
Speaking to ThePrint, a CBSE official said the board will ensure the safety of students appearing for exams. “The number of exam centres has been increased by 40-50 per cent to ensure students are safe. We are also creating awareness among students and parents to follow all Covid safety guidelines,” the official added.
Gerry Arathoon, the Chief Executive and Secretary at CISCE, which oversees the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), said the schedule for exams “will remain the same”.
The second Covid wave in India has seen the case tally climb new heights. According to the data released by the government Wednesday, 1,15,736 people had tested positive for Covid-19 across the country in the preceding 24 hours. This is the highest daily total India has recorded since the beginning of the pandemic.
Covid vaccination is under way in the country, but target beneficiaries currently only include health and frontline workers, and those aged 45 and above.
Last year, the board exams were under way when the pandemic began to take root. After the lockdown kicked in last March, the remaining exams were first deferred and then eventually cancelled.
One of the Change.org petitions demanding cancellation of CBSE board exams reads: “The situation in India is getting worse day by day!! When there were only a few cases in the country they cancelled the remaining board exams and now when the cases are at a peak they’re planning to open schools!!”
It adds: “I urge the education minister to look into this matter and cancel all examinations to be held this year as students are already under a lot of stress.”
Another one, aimed specifically at disabled learners, seeks to urge the NIOS to promote them without exams. “Under the shadow of the pandemic, we need the NIOS to promote disabled learners instead of insisting that they physically take the exams.”
Some others say the exams should either be taken online or students should be promoted on the basis of assignments and projects.
Change.org Country Director Nida Hasan said it is “currently raining exam-related petitions on Change.org”.
“We’ve seen over 550 petitions on the theme of exams started in the last 24 hours alone, taking the total to around 900 in the past month. Students are thronging our platform to urge the government to either cancel all exams, postpone them until after the pandemic or to conduct online exams only,” she added.
“The prospect of taking CBSE and ICSE board exams offline in examination centres against the backdrop of the second wave of the pandemic is terrifying for many students and their parents,” she said.
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)