The Supreme Court of India today held the hearing on plea seeking to cancel all board exams. The biggest highlight of the proceedings were the matter of conduct of inter / class 12 state board exams by the Andhra Pradesh government. While the state wishes to go ahead with the exams, the Supreme Court did not pass a final decision on the state board exam today, and instead gave the state a day’s time to propose a fool proof plan.
Central education boards such as CBSE and ICSE along with most state boards have cancelled their respective board exams. Alternate evaluation methodology shall be used to evaluate students and announce the results. However, Andhra Pradesh government is yet to announce a concrete decision regarding the Class 12 board exams, keeping 10.32 lakh students in a state of uncertainty. Today however, the state informed the top court that it has planned to conduct the board exams as no alternate methodology can be implemented for evaluation.
Today’s court proceedings took place in front of the bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari. Representing the state government in court was Adv. Mahfooz Nazki. Before beginning the session, the top court stated that each state and the central board shall formulate their own evaluation criteria and inform authorities of the same. In spite of this liberty, AP is unwilling to cancel their board exams.
Acknowledging the SC’s comment, Nazki informed the timeline to conduct the board exams. Accordingly, the Class 12 board exams shall take place by the end of July 2021 or sooner, if possible. However, this was just a tentative timeline and no concrete schedule was provided to the bench.
According to the affidavit presented by the AP Government, only 15-18 students shall be permitted to give the exam in a 25×25 room. Adequate rooms have been prepared to execute this arrangement. Thus, for approximately, 5,25,000 students, 34,634 rooms shall be made available. If required, the government is also prepared to utilise government buildings to conduct the board exams. Furthermore, up to 50,000 staff members shall be vaccinated before hand to conduct these board exams. However, the government did not guarantee aspects like adequate ventilation, actual break-up of the rooms and employees available. The government also did not provide any inkling of guaranteeing the safety and health of students and employees.
During the session, the bench highlighted the problems and loopholes present in the state government’s proposal to conduct physical exams. Firstly, AP did not provide figures or any data regarding the exam schedule, the infrastructure and the logistical requirements. In case the government does not provide a concrete proposal in time, SC will have to obligate them to not conduct the Class 12 board exams.
As of now, the country is reeling from the problems caused by the second wave of COVID-19. There are fears of a new coronavirus variant called Deltaplus along with the much-anticipated third wave. Under such circumstances, the state cannot completely guarantee the safety of 5 lakh students in addition to 1 lakh staff members. If the safety of all is completely guaranteed, only then it will be feasible for AP government to conduct the board exams.
Additionally, the top court shall also ask the University Grants Commission (UGC) to decide a cut-off date. By this date, all boards including central and state, must announce their board exam results. In case Andhra Pradesh decided to conduct its board exams, it must also abide by this date. Along with proper arrangement for physical exams, AP government must also think about the consequences of conducting such a largescale exam during the pandemic, directed the Supreme Court.
Speaking about alternate evaluation methods, the top court suggested averaging-out marks to assess Class 12 students. The government can also seek inputs from CBSE, ICSE and experts to find a concrete solution. The bench was not satisfied by the proposal given by the government and hence, has asked the state to show the file recordings of the final decision by tomorrow, June 25, 2021 when the next hearing has been scheduled for 2 PM. Considering this session, the students in Andhra Pradesh are expected to soon get a clear idea about their Class 12 results, after much wait and uncertainty.