Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia Wednesday wrote to Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank', urging him to cancel pending board exams, citing the spike in COVID-19 cases and the high number of containment zones in the city. Sisodia’s letter came on a day the Supreme Court asked the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to examine if remaining board papers can be scrapped and marks allotted to students on the basis of internal assessment.
The apex court was hearing a petition by a group of parents seeking a direction to the CBSE to scrap the pending exams.
The same demand was earlier communicated by the Maharashtra government to the HRD Ministry.
Last month also, Sisodia, also Delhi's Education Minister, had raised the issue in a meeting of states’ education ministers, chaired by the HRD Minister.
In his latest letter, Sisodia said, "I hope you would agree with me that the board exams, particularly those of Class 12 are a high stake exam for children.
Hence, subjecting them to take this exam in such an uncertain and anxiety-prone situation would not be fair to them. Further, in the context of Delhi, I can say that it would be extremely difficult to conduct the exam.”
"During the last one week, the daily number of cases getting COVID-19 positive has been rising and the total number of confirmed cases now stands at 44,688,” Sisodia said.
“This is likely to rise to 5.5 lakh by July 31. In such a situation, if a candidate or someone in a family tests positive, he or she will have to skip the exam causing further distress," he added.
The class 10 and 12 board exams which were postponed due to the lockdown in view of the COVID-19 outbreak have been rescheduled, and are now slated to be conducted between July 1 and 15.
According to Home Ministry guidelines, there will be no examination centre in containment zones.
"Currently, there are 242 containment zones in Delhi which will rise further. Though, as per the current plan of CBSE, schools in these zones will not be used as exam center, there is no clarity on how a child from this zone will come out to take the exam," Sisodia said.
"I once again request you to remove any further uncertainty and declare that the exams in 29 subjects proposed to be conducted in July will not be conducted at all. For the results in these subjects, CBSE may rely upon the previous school based internal assessments which include project work, periodic tests, term exam, etc.
"I once again urge you to let us now focus on building the confidence of parents and capacity of schools to welcome our children back to resume teaching learning activities, whenever it is possible in the near future, instead of getting stuck with the remaining exams," he added.
He also pointed out that at present, 251 Delhi government school-buildings are being used as dry ration distribution centers, 33 schools are serving as hunger relief centers, 39 as shelter homes, 10 as transit migrant camps and 10 as quarantine centers.
"These schools will not be in a position to conduct exam from July 1, 2020. To meet the requirement of additional beds, which is estimated around 80,000 by the end of July, the Delhi Government is planning to use the auditoriums in nearly 242 schools to set up additional beds for COVID patients requiring hospitalization. Holding exams in the same building where there would be hundreds of corona patients would be a serious risk," he further said.
The CICSE board has already announced that its class 10 and 12 students can choose not to appear for pending board exams and be marked as per their performance in pre-board exams or internal assessment.
Universities and schools across the country have been shut since March 16, when the Centre announced a countrywide classroom shutdown as part of measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. A nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24, which came into effect the next day.
While the government has eased several restrictions, schools and colleges continue to remain closed.