Students and studentsâ€™ organisations in Karnataka are urging the state government to cancel the Second PU (Pre-University) exams in Karnataka, arguing that it is too risky to conduct exams due to the high number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state. Additionally, they have cited a lack of student preparedness for the exams as a result of the lack of physical classes. This demand came after Class 12 exams of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) were cancelled by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) following a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Tuesday.
Karnataka Education Minister Suresh Kumar had earlier said that a decision would be taken after assessing the COVID-19 situation in the state and deliberating the preparedness of the students, keeping in mind their safety and health.
When TNM spoke to Second PU students, several of them expressed anxiety over attending exams. Students in rural areas specifically were worried about travelling to write exams, citing a lack of proper healthcare facilities if they contract COVID-19.
â€śThere were a lot of cases in our village and we barely have any health facilities. The Primary Health Center in our village has been closed and the nearest one is two kilometers away. They donâ€™t treat people properly or conduct COVID-19 tests so we will have to go to the city. In such a situation, I'm worried about what would happen if my family contracts COVID-19 from me,â€ť said Lakshmi*, a student from a village near Dharwad.
Ajay Kamath, secretary of the All India Democratic Studentsâ€™ Organisation (AIDSO), said in a statement, â€śThe pandemic has now reached villages and is creating havoc in rural areas. Even if the government decides to conduct the examination, it can be done only after ensuring a few days of offline classes. But with the threat of a third wave of pandemic looming large, conducting offline classes and examinations both will cause great trouble to students.â€ť
Students also expressed difficulties faced because of a lack of physical classes and incomplete syllabus. Yeshwanth, a second PU student from Bengaluru, said, â€śSome subjects were completed and some werenâ€™t. Even those that were completed, I couldnâ€™t understand everything that was taught online. There were connectivity issues and other interruptions. Iâ€™m not confident that I will be able to face exams in the current situation.â€ť
In a statement, Sarovar Benkikere, the convenor of Karnataka Vidyarthi Saghatane (KVS) said, â€śStudents havenâ€™t attended physical classes where they can directly interact with teachers and hence it is impossible for them to attend exams. We urge the government to cancel the Second PU exams and ease the burden of the students and parents.â€ť
Another issue pointed out by Ajay was that students studying the state syllabus will be put at a disadvantage if they have to write exams, since students taking CBSE and ICSE donâ€™t have to write them.
â€śCBSE students, who won't be writing any exams, will now have an advantage in admission for PUC and higher education courses. This will create a hurdle for state syllabus students if exams are conducted waiting for the effects of pandemic to subside. Even in CET admission, state students will suffer,â€ť he said.