Board Exams Cancelled: How Do Schools Adapt?
In April and May of 2021, Class 10 and Class 12 Board exams of various boards in India were cancelled. This has left students across the country fraught with anxiety about their future, especially students of Class 12 and raises many questions discussed in this blog.
What are Board Exams in India? Why are they cancelled?
‘Board Exams’ in India and year - end public examinations conducted by education ‘Boards’ like ISC, CBSE and various state boards like the Bihar Education Board, whom Turn the Bus works with. These exams are one of the main evaluation processes that students in high schools in India go through, in order to move on to further higher education institutions like universities and colleges. The board exams this year has been cancelled by various boards like ISC and CBSE due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in India and this has serious repercussions.
How Else To Assess?
The National Education Policy explains that students’ progress in each grade will be assessed with ‘formative assessments’, that is, evaluating their class presence, interactive quizzes and observations. However, education in India and around the world, this past year and a half, has been turned upside down. With students studying remotely and most of them not having access to the internet and digital infrastructure, ‘formative assessments’ were not a possibility. These students were relying on the year- end board results, which have now been cancelled and leaves them in a state of limbo.
Once more, the Question of Digital Divide!
As mentioned time and again, most students in India are without internet access and digital infrastructure access. The National Sample Survey for 2017 indicates that only 4% of rural households and 23% of urban households had a computer. Internet access, on the other hand, was available only to 15% of rural and 42% of urban households in India.
We possibly cannot pen down solutions to wicked problems in a blog article. We do, however, bring the above evidence to discuss that the solution moving forward has to be that different Boards and schools need to adapt and reassess their students evaluation system that can still holistically still evaluate students both in classrooms and remotely, when situations demand it. Students themselves, meanwhile, can be advised to prepare for other entrance examinations, many of whom do not depend on board exam results at all.
The COVID-19 crisis is going to transform almost all sectors apart from just health, including education in India. We hope that the government, in its National Education Policy further improves students' learning formative assessment, to also include evaluating students holistically even in a situation where education is taken digitally. That is where the future lies.