The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) announced the schedule for final examinations of classes 10 and 12 on Tuesday, three months before the commencement of theory papers on May 4, taking a step towards normalcy that could leave a key imprint on this year’s academic session in the shadow of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
According to the CBSE date sheet, Class 10 board exams will end on June 7 and Class 12 board exams on June 11. The board said authorities will have to follow guidelines against Covid-19 such as wearing masks, following physical distancing and using sanitisers.
Officials at the Council for the Indian School Certificate (CISC), another national-level board, said they too were working on board exam schedules. While some state boards have already announced the dates, others are in the process of finalising the modalities. The commencement of board exams, especially CBSE — the biggest national board — would have a bearing on college admission dates and, in turn, the entire academic session that was upended by the pandemic last year, experts said.
“The practical priority for schools is to deliver exams. This is the first thing they will try to deliver in order to move towards normalcy. For regular learning, the schools might continue hybrid learning (online and offline) for some more months. It all depends on the Covid-19 positivity rate at that exact time,” educationist Meeta Sengupta said.
The CBSE schedule detailed that while most of the Class 12 exams will be held in the morning shift (10.30am-12.30/ 1.30pm), some of them have been slated for the afternoon shift (2.30pm- 4.30/5.30pm) with an aim to reduce the total exam days in view of the pandemic. To be sure, this does not mean that Class 12 students will have to write two papers a day. The four days (May 6, 15, 21, and 27) when they will write their papers in the afternoon, only Class 10 exams will be held in the morning.
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“Class 12 examinations will be conducted in two shifts to reduce the number of days of conducting examinations,” Sanyam Bhardwaj, CBSE controller of examinations, said. Bhardwaj added that exams for subjects not offered by schools abroad will be conducted in the afternoon shift on the four specified days.
Classes 10 and 12 theory examinations (for all streams) will be completed in 39 days, as compared with the 45 days planned in 2020. However, 12 papers of Class 12 were eventually cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak, which also impacted college admissions that were pushed back by at least three months.
Authorities also announced that around 340,000 students will take the Class 10 and Class 12 board exams this year. While the Class 10 exams involve a total of 75 subjects, including optionals, Class 12 exams involve 111 subjects across science commerce and arts streams. Practical tests will begin on March 1, as announced in December.
Usually, the practicals are conducted in January while written exams begin in February and conclude in March.
Officials at the Delhi University (DU) said the college admission process may again get delayed, but the situation would be better compared to the last year. The admission process was delayed by around three months (from July to October) due to the pandemic, said Suman Kumar, a member of the DU admission committee last year. “According to the CBSE schedule (this year), the results are likely to be announced by July 15. However, our academic session normally begins in mid-July. It means the admission process will again get delayed this year.”
On Tuesday, Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ announced the CBSE exam schedule and wished students luck. “When the entire world was fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, students showed everyone that they were capable of taking care of both their health and future. Now that the vaccines are here, we don’t need to be afraid and just take the necessary precaution,” he said in a video address. He added that adequate intervals had been given between two important papers. The board has already announced that its 2021 exams will be conducted in written mode, and not online. Owing to the disruptions due to Covid-19, the board has also reduced its syllabus for classes 9-12 for the 2020-2021 academic session by up to 30% as a “one-time measure”.
Schools were closed across the country in March-end, and then a 68-day nationwide hard lockdown followed prohibiting all businesses and activities, excluding essential services. Though the Centre allowed states to take a call on the graded reopening of educational institutes after October 15, many of them took a wait and watch approach before allowing students to return to their classrooms. Meanwhile, schools conducted online classes.
Also read: CBSE class 12 date sheet 2021 released, here’s direct link
Jyoti Arora, principal of Mount Abu Public School in Delhi’s Rohini, welcomed the move to announce the schedule three months in advance and said it will help students. “Schools will be following Covid-19 protocols such as physical distancing, masks and sanitisation. CBSE has prepared the date sheet in a meticulous way and even reduced the number of days of the examination.”
Darshan Ram, a Class 12 student at Bluebells School International in Delhi, agreed. “Adequate time has been given… between two examinations. There won’t be any issue since we still have three months left for the exams,” he said.
Some state boards such as those in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh have already announced their board exam dates, while states such as Rajasthan are likely to make public their schedule soon. Class 12 board exams in Bihar have commenced and will conclude on February 13. The Tamil Nadu government is holding consultations to decide on the dates for state board exams. Karnataka has announced a tentative time table Class 10 exams.