The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) on Tuesday decided to cancel Class 12 board exams amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic across the country.
The development followed a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the States and other stakeholders.
Asserting that the anxiety among students, parents and teachers must be put to an end, Modi said "the health and safety of students are of utmost importance and that there would be no compromise".
"The decision was taken in the interest of the students," Narendra Modi said adding that they "should not be forced to appear for exams in such stressful situation".
The CISCE's decision to cancel the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) Class 12 examination was announced shortly after CBSE made their decision.
Regarding evaluation methods
While the alternative assessment criteria for the exams have not been finalised by the CBSE Board yet, officials said it is expected to be on similar lines as announced for Class 10 which took into account the performance of a student in various tests and exams throughout the year.
The government said that the students' marks will be tabulated as per a well-defined objective criteria.
This will be announced in a time-bound manner, the government added.
The meeting also decided to provide a chance for students who wish to write the examinations after the COVID-19 situation improves. CBSE had provided a similar option last year too.
Meanwhile, CISCE secretary Gerry Arathoon said an alternative assessment criteria will be announced soon.
With this, the untold anxiety among students, parents, teachers across the country have come to an end.
"Glad that Class 12 board exams have been cancelled; it is big relief," Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.
Kejriwal was among the many who had been campaigning on behalf of the students against conducting the examinations amid the pandemic.
Education Minister Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal too reiterated that "the safety and career of students of paramount importance".
Pokhriyal was not part of the meeting on Tuesday as he is suffering from post-COVID complications.
A relief to many
This is the first time that the CBSE has completely cancelled the board exam conducted by it. Last year, exams were midway when a nationwide lockdown was announced in view of the COVID-19 outbreak and the remaining exams were cancelled later.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Education had sought detailed suggestions from the states and union territories on conducting the examinations.
It had proposed two options -- conducting regular exams for only major subjects at notified centres or holding shorter-duration exams at the school where a student is enrolled.
The proposed timeline for conducting the exams was between July 15 to August 26 and declaring the results in September. States were asked to submit detailed suggestions by May 25.
While a good number of States opted for the second option which included conducting 90 minutes exams for major subjects at student's home schools, a majority were opposed to the idea of conducting an examination in wake of an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases in the country and a dire shortage of vaccines.
The Supreme Court too heard pleas seeking directions to cancel the CBSE Class 12 exams. On the Court's request, the Centre was to arrive at a final decision by June 3.
The CBSE had on April 14 announced the cancellation of Class 10 exams after concerns were raised from all quarters. It had then postponed the decision on Class 12 to consult relevant stakeholders.
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