Assam is among the few states which have not yet decided to call off the board exams despite the overhanging threat of Covid-19.
While state education minister Ranoj Pegu was firm on conducting the board exams, it failed to get the state cabinet’s nod on Wednesday. The cabinet recommended that it would not be possible to conduct the HSLC, High Madrassa and HS final year examinations in view of the prevailing Covid-19 positivity rate hovering between 2% and 3%. Now all eyes are on the crucial meeting of various stakeholders, including student organizations, that is scheduled to be held at the state secretariat here on Friday afternoon.
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Sources in the education department told TOI that most likely the exams would be cancelled this year. “Friday’s meeting may conclude with a unanimous decision to scrap the state board exams. Opposition to the decision from stakeholders is unlikely,” a senior official of the education department said.
“Every year, many passouts struggle to get admission in colleges due to seat scarcity. Also, Assam is not a state where 90-95% students pass the Class X and XII board exams. Under such circumstances, the biggest challenge will be to decide whether we can promote all students,” the official said.
Lack of a structured and orderly internal assessment system for Class X and XII students has been the biggest issue for the state education boards. Both Assam Higher Secondary Education Council and Board of Secondary Education, Assam (Seba), had no answer on how to promote the students without assessment. As the Union government had insisted on completing the entire exam process by September 5 to prevent any academic loss to students, there were plans to complete the state boards around mid-August.
However, the state cabinet’s recommendation has put a brake on the education department’s plans to conduct the exams for a fewer subjects. Sources said chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had elaborate discussions with education minister Pegu on the issue and the latter will make the final announcement after Friday’s meeting.
“The focus of the discussion is likely to be the cabinet’s recommendation which says it is not a favourable time to conduct the board exams. But if a decision is taken to cancel the exams, the modalities to promote the students is unlikely to be addressed tomorrow,” said Preetom Saikia, special commissioner to the secondary education department.
Even though organizations like the All Assam Students’ Union (Aasu) submitted a proposed modality before Seba on how to conduct the exams for fewer papers, they too admitted that a decision to scrap the exams will create another bigger challenge. “After discussing the matter with guardians and educationists we found a way to conduct the exams for a few subjects so that at least an assessment of every student could be done. But without any exam or previous internal assessment, it may take more time to prepare the modalities to evaluate each and every student,” Aasu general secretary Sankar Jyoti Baruah said.