Reopening schools for exams

Reopening schools for exams

Context: It is reasonable to plan for school exams in summer, if progress on COVID-19 holds.

Should schools reopen for exams, if covid-19 situation improves?

Views against opening schools:

  • State board’s stance: State Boards are yet to make up their minds on the schedule for annual examinations and the academic session for next year.
  • Badly affected Maharashtra and Gujarat are thinking of postponing the final examinations.
  • ICSE’s views: The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations has appealed to States to allow its schools to open Classes 10 and 12 in a limited way early in January.
  • Conflicts in some states: There is also the likely conflict between summer elections in large States such as Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Kerala, and the examination schedule for 2021.

Argument in favour:

The strongest argument in favour of a written Board examination is that it eliminates asymmetrical access, including technology deficits, and gives all pupils an equal opportunity to score.

  • View of CBSE: The CBSE which has more than 20,000 schools under its domain at the secondary level, has weighed in favour of written mode tests, obviously counting on progress in dealing with the pandemic.
    • The board was able to wrap up its 2020 examination schedule that began in mid-February, without getting derailed by the national lockdown in March.
  • Syllabus reduction: Students are relieved that, in line with the experience in countries such as the U.K., the syllabus has been significantly cut down and examination schedules may be put off by a few months beyond March.
  • Vaccine covering teachers: The availability of a good vaccine that will also cover teachers and students through a staggered programme is arguably key to determining the coming year’s academic time-table.

Way forward

  • Hearing public concerns: Education Minister’s move to hear public concerns on such issues through an online consultation is a positive step to build consensus.

India is better placed than America or Europe to provide ventilated classrooms, an important factor in controlling viral spread, because of the climate. Yet, a definitive view on the school schedule for 2021 is not possible until the course of the pandemic over the next few months becomes clear.

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