TN criticised for decision to conduct class 10 exams amid rising COVID-19 cases

The government of Tamil Nadu, on Tuesday, announced that the state board exams for Class 10 will be conducted from June 1 to June 12.
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The sudden announcement by the government of Tamil Nadu to conduct board exams for Class 10 state board students from June 1 has raised eyebrows of stakeholders, who call it ‘a hurried decision’. 

Tamil Nadu’s School Education Minister on Tuesday announced that the state board exams for students studying Class 10 will be held from June 1 to June 12. These exams were originally scheduled between March 27 and April 13. However, after the government of Tamil Nadu ordered all the educational institutions to shut down as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the class 10 exams were postponed without specifying a date. 

The minister on Tuesday also announced that the exams which were to be held on March 24 and 26 for classes 12 and 11 respectively will also be held on June 4 and 2, respectively. He also stated that adequate precautions including physical distancing will be followed at exam centres during the exams. 

This announcement comes out of the blue for the people in Tamil Nadu even as the number of COVID-19 cases in the state is on the rise. On Monday alone, Tamil Nadu recorded 798 new cases of COVID-19, thus taking the tally of the total number of cases to 8002. Fifty-three people have died while getting treated in hospitals in Tamil Nadu for COVID-19.

Teachers apprehensive

The decision to conduct class 10 exams from June 1 has left teachers across the spectrum —  government schools, government-aided school and private schools — apprehensive. Many teachers feel that the government could have waited for a few more days to analyse the situation before making the announcement and releasing the exam timetable. 

Priya*, a government school teacher in Tamil Nadu, who teaches class 10 students, says that the decision seems to have been made in a hurry. 

“We don’t know if the lockdown is going to be extended after May 17 and we for sure don’t know the status of the spread either. I think they should have waited till May last week to consider the situation and then take a call,” she says. 

Adding that students mostly would be out of touch with books and studies since schools have been shut from March third week, Priya explains, “It would take students some time to come back to the routine of sitting in a class and studying. We would also need at least ten days in a proper classroom atmosphere to prepare the students for the exams. Now we don’t know how to proceed, given the current restrictions.” 

Many teachers also carry the opinion that the emphasis of private schools on the results and pass percentage will only increase the stress on them. 

'Adds to mental agony'

For parents of students, it is a different ball-game altogether. With the number of new COVID-19 cases on the rise, parents are restricting the movement of their children outside their homes fearing infection. 

S Arumainathan, President of Tamil Nadu Students Parents Welfare Association and a parent himself, says that the decision lacks foresight. 

“The cases in Tamil Nadu are on the rise and so are the deaths. In such a situation how will the parents get the confidence to send their children to write exams and how will the students study peacefully? It is an added mental agony for them at this juncture,” he asks. 

According to him, ideally, the government should have waited until June to assess the situation and issued a timetable for exams to be held in July. “We had also requested that the schools can consider assessing the internal marks of the students this year alone and give them a certificate stating whether they have passed or failed. Subject-wise assessment can also be done so that the students can pick the streams they want to study in class 11,” he explains. 

Adding that the rationale behind the call to conduct exams from June 1 is not clear, Arumainathan said that it puts pressure on the students and parents because it has become a choice between studies and safety.

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