Centre may announce decision on CBSE Class XII exams today

It will result in clarity for 14 lakh students registered to take them

The Centre is likely to announce on June 1 a decision on the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Class XII examinations, bringing clarity for 14 lakh students registered to write the exams this year.

The exams, originally scheduled to be held in May, were postponed due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Education Ministry saying it will review the situation on June 1. On May 31, the Centre told the Supreme Court it will announce a decision by June 3.

Shorter version

Senior officials at the Ministry say that the Centre is favourably considering a proposal to conduct a shorter version of the exams. Under the plan, which was also presented by the CBSE at a meeting with State Education Ministers last week, exams will only be conducted in 19 major subjects.

Students will be allowed to write the exams in their own schools. Unlike the usual three-hour-long papers, a shorter 90-minute question paper with multiple choice and short answer questions will be used. The exam may be conducted twice so that areas and students affected by COVID-19 will not be excluded.

A majority of State governments favoured this option, although a few preferred the regular three-hour exam. Delhi and Maharashtra both expressed the opinion that exams should not be held until students and teachers are vaccinated, and instead suggested that grading be done using scores from past examinations and tests. A large section of students and parents has also demanded that the exams be cancelled in view of health concerns, with some of them moving court.

Last year, the board exams were interrupted by COVID, resulting in the cancellation of some papers. The CBSE had used an alternative assessment method to assign grades in those subjects by using scores from the completed papers. The Centre has indicated that this may not be an option this time around, since students have not written any exams this year.

However, the top court on Monday said that if the Centre was departing from last year’s policy, it must give a “good reason” for doing so.

During last week’s meeting with State ministers, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank had emphasised “the importance of the Class XII board exams and the All India Entrance exams in shaping the future and defining the careers of students”.

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