“Our children’s future is my greatest priority. In this regard, we have formed an expert committee to decide over holding the Class X and XII board exams in 2021. We are also inviting views and opinions from parents, the general public, sector experts, civil society, and students,” tweeted CM Mamata Banerjee. In a second tweet, she requested the emails be sent to the school education department or the primary education department or secondary education department by 2 pm on Monday.
Educationists said the outreach to the public reflected the challenges involved in holding the examinations amidst the pandemic as well as assessing the students if the exams are canceled and the sensitivity of the issue given that the fate of 21 lakh students is at stake.
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The move was also prompted by the dilemma that is evident in the expert committee report. Though the six members agreed that holding the examination in offline format at schools and online format in homes was not possible due to the pandemic and access to the internet and devices among a large section of students, there is no clear resolution on how to assess the students as no internal exams have been held in either Class X or Class XII.
Sources said the panel had suggested a home assignment or an open book exam with questions sent by post to students’ residence where the latter is required to revert it to schools by post after writing the answers. But. that is easier said than done given the huge logistical challenges for even the 8.5 lakh HS students. Also, some pointed out that the expert committee did not seek the suggestions of teachers.
Several teachers have expressed their disapproval of exams being canceled altogether. “If the elections could be held, so can Class-XII exams,” said a teacher.