The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has decided to cancel the remaining tests of students who had appeared in the class 12 examination this year. It effectively means that students who were unable to appear for some papers on account of the Covid-19 lockdown shall be evaluated on their performances based on either internal assessments or on project reports that they had submitted. Some other boards also have declared that they would follow the CBSE pattern while in several regions, state governments are planning to go ahead with the examination curriculum. This has created a lot of confusion and for students who were to pass out their Class 12 this year, an uncertain future lies ahead.
Universities are also grappling with examination issues and are in the process of figuring out what to do. Many of the top universities are planning not to hold any kind of exam for the first and second year undergraduate students; they shall be promoted on the basis of their internal assessment. However, there is ambiguity so far as final year students of either undergraduate or post-graduate courses are concerned. Attempts are being made to ensure that no student wastes a year and gets promoted or obtains his or her degree. There has been a talk about holding online examinations which in a country as diverse as ours is a herculean task at this juncture.
According to a survey conducted by one of the leading universities, there are at least 25% students who do not have access to either a computer or a smartphone or any equipment that can assist them to appear online. Obviously, these students cannot be put to any disadvantage merely because they do not possess the economic strength to buy modernday gadgets. Even those who are conversant with laptops or computers, face the language problem that comes into play since either English, Hindi or a regional language is compulsory. For instance, if a student is willing to take the exams in English medium, what happens when he has to appear for the regional language or Hindi exam? The keyboards are totally different. There are a large number of students who have planned to also have a shot at either the civil service entrance exams or other competitive tests for furthering their careers. This holds good particularly for the final-year undergraduate students who would be ineligible if they do not have the requisite degrees.
Thus, there is pressure mounting on the HRD ministry to enunciate a uniform policy concerning the exams in this extraordinary year which is threatening to mar the future of a significant segment of our population. This is evidently a task that is not easy at all. There have been suggestions that every eligible student should be promoted or granted his degree keeping in view the exceptional circumstances. They can exercise the option of improving their performance at a later date. The HRD ministry should have the final word.