More than 17 lakh and 13 lakh students appear for the SSC and HSC exams in the state each year. The father of an HSC student said, “There is a lot of uncertainty concerning Class XII exams. Students do not know if and when the exams will be conducted, and they are getting frustrated as a result of it. The government needs to decide to relieve them of this anxiety.”
The state, though, is unlikely to decide concerning HSC exams unless national boards such as CBSE or CISCE announce something. As of now, the national boards have announced they would review the Covid-19 situation in the first week of June and then take a decision. The Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education had announced May-end as the probable dates for holding the HSC exams.
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The high-stake exams have the academic faculty divided too. Vidyadhar Joshi, vice-principal, V G Vaze College, Mulund, said, “Students might not be in the right frame of mind to appear for the exams as many have suffered losses in the pandemic. They might not be able to perform to their best as well. The government must consider holding college-level or course-specific entrance exams for admissions. The board could also modify the current exam format and instead hold a single-day exam to test Class XII students.”
The impact on admissions has teachers worried. Sudam Kumbhar, former principal of Shailendra High School in Dahisar, said, “While not immediately, HSC exams must be conducted because it decides the students’ future. All professional courses are based on Class XII scores. The government will have to relook at all admission criteria. What would happen to students who want to join international universities?”
Experts also said there is a need for central government intervention in the Class XII exams. “It’s a very high-stake exam connected to higher education nationally and globally. Conducting or assessing the performance of Class XII needs validation from the ministry of education (GoI). Students have taken a lot of effort despite challenges and we should decide at a time when it’s safe to do so. Hence, let’s ensure a fair balance of academic credibility and safety,” said Francis Joseph of School Leaders’ Network who also consults with the state government concerning board exams.
On Monday, the school education minister, Varsha Gaikwad held another consultation with college principals to seek recommendations about the SSC assessment pattern.