MUMBAI: School education minister Varsha Gaikwad on Monday said that keeping in mind the schedule of entrance exams for professional courses, HSC exams will be held by the end of May, while SSC exams will be conducted in June. “We’re closely monitoring the health situation. Fresh dates for these exams will be announced accordingly. We’ll also be writing to the CBSE, CICSE, IB, Cambridge boards, requesting them to reconsider their exams dates,” she said.
Over 30 lakh students appear for the HSC and SSC exams in the state each year.
Over the last few weeks there has been a growing demand from parents and students to cancel or postpone the board exams. However, the decision to postpone the papers hasn’t appeased some groups. “The government must opt for internal assessment as the situation is unpredictable. There is a lot of stress among parents and students. The Centre must intervene and announce a uniform decision for all its students,” said Anubha Sahai, a member of the IndiaWide Parents Association. Another parent said that the decision has only added to the uncertainty.
“If the Covid-19 situation is the same till May end, will they postpone the exams again? The delay will have an impact on the preparation for competitive exams. Not just medical and engineering, but class XII students take exams for several professional courses at state and national levels,” said Sudha Shenoy, a parent representative. The national level exams will happen at a time convenient for all states and not just Maharashtra, she added.
Another parent said even class X students enrol in junior colleges in other places like Kota to prepare for JEE and NEET. These admissions will be affected too. If later the state decides to grade them without an exam, how will they ensure there is parity among all boards, asked another parent.
Teachers said the state government must use the time to prepare themselves for other uncertainties. “The board must not hurry to declare the new dates, and instead wait and watch. Meanwhile, it must work on alternatives in case it cannot hold offline exams even after pushing them for a month,” said Shivnath Darade, a member of the teachers’ group Shikshak Parishad. “The board should also work to expedite the results process to ensure that students’ next academic year is not impacted.”
CM Uddhav Thackeray said the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education must complete preparations and create a standard operating procedure for whenever the new HSC and SSC exam dates are announced. “The number of centres should be increased, school and college buildings should be fixed, large halls should be found, students should be seated at a safe distance, cleanliness of exam centres, toilets, disinfection should be taken care of. Additional manpower should be planned for conducting the exams and…all staff in the examination system should be vaccinated,” he said.