Punjab to promote students of Classes 5, 8, 10 without exams; Haryana too cancels Class 10 boards

The announcement by the two neighbouring states came a day after the Union government cancelled Class 10 exams conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education and postponed Class 12 exams.

The Punjab government Thursday announced that it will promote students of Classes 5, 8 and 10 of the state-run schools to the next standard without exams even as Haryana too cancelled the Class 10 state board exams and decided to postpone the exams of Class 12 amid an ongoing surge in Covid-19 cases. Punjab will take a decision on the Class 12 examinations later.

The Punjab decision will affect nearly 7.70 lakh students of classes 5 (1,99,669), 6 (2,00,144), and 8 (1,95,012) as per the enrollment record of Punjab education department for the year 2020-21. The state has 1,73 658 students in Class 12.

In Haryana, 6.67 lakh students were to appear for Class 10 and 12 Board exams. They include 3.55 lakh of Class 10 and 2.51 lakh of Class 12.

The announcement by the two neighbouring states came a day after the Union government cancelled Class 10 exams conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education and postponed Class 12 exams.

The Punjab State Examination Board (PSEB) too had last month deferred exams of Classes 10 and 12 by about a month. The exams of Class 10 were scheduled to start from May 4 and that of Class 12 were to commence from April 20.

For Class 5 students, since exams of four of their five subjects have already been conducted, results may be declared by the PSEB on the basis of marks obtained by them in the four subjects, ignoring the fifth one, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh said.

Results for Classes 8 and 10 may be declared on the basis of pre-board examinations or internal assessment of schools, the CM directed the Education Department at a coronavirus review meeting.

Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla said that the promotion on the basis of house tests would be followed for the classes one till 10. “The decision has been taken and the fine points are being worked out.”

Singla added that the decision on Class 12 board exams will be taken after June 1. “We will see what the CBSE does. That will provide us a pattern,” he added.

Amarinder said as the state has closed all educational institutions till April 30, bringing down the infection positivity rate in the 11-20 age group, a relief is needed to be provided to schoolchildren going for exams.

In Haryana, Education Minister Kanwar Pal said, “After CBSE’s decision, we have also decided to cancel the Class 10 exams, which were to be conducted by the Haryana Board of School Education, keeping in view the present Covid-19 situation. We have also decided to postpone the Board exams of Class 12.

He said the result of Class 10 will be declared on the basis of internal assessment of students.

The state board exams were to start later this month and continue till mid-May.

“A decision on Class 12 exams will be taken after May 31, depending on the situation that day,” Pal added.

The decision invoked mixed reactions in the two states.

Dr Jagbir Singh, chairman, Board of School Education, Haryana said, “As far as Board is concerned, we are ready to conduct examination at any point of time…in a week or after a month. (But) Government has taken a decision in the interest of students and the Board will comply with it”.

State president of Federation of Private School Welfare Association, Haryana and president of National Independent Schools Alliance, Kulbhushan Sharma, asked if classes can be held online, then examinations can be held online as well. “When the government can hold elections, hold political rallies, why cannot students take their examinations in schools? Is the government so incapable of making arrangements when it comes to the future of children? It is absurd that the government can hold elections, but not examinations”.

He asked if there was a guarantee that Covid will fade away next year. “Which student is sitting at home? They are roaming around in markets, on their motorbikes,” he said, adding there is ample space in schools and students can sit maintaining a distance of 10 metres for the exams. If a classroom has a capacity of 40 students, examinations can be conducted with one-fourth the strength.

“The government has cancelled the exams and should refund examination fee to students. As such, the condition in state is such that a Class 5 student cannot read, and a Class 8 student cannot write. When the youth is already going through such a phase, cancellation of exams is going to further ruin their future,” Sharma added.

In Punjab’s Jalandhar, Principal Barinder Kaur of Government Model Senior Secondary School, Ladowali Road, said that both the teachers and students have worked very hard for their board exams. Even during the pre-board exams for Class 10, the schools tried to ensure maximum attendance of the students. S he, however, added that the “rapid surge in Covid cases is also a major threat” and the “government has taken this decision as a precautionary measure”.

Another school principal in Punjab, on the condition of anonymity, said that they are in a state of shock. The government, the principal said, should have postponed the Class 10 boards instead of cancelling it.

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