Beyond exam centric education Cancelling 12th exams

Not totally unexpected but the first as far as one can go back in memory and how a system which has been solely relying on the mark/exam system will work out the performance of the students remains to be seen. That it took none less than Prime Minister Narendra Modi to chair a meeting and come to the conclusion that the CBSE Class XII board examinations for the year 2021 should stand cancelled reflects the reality of how seriously COVID-19 has impacted on every sphere of life. Following the decision to drop the CBSE Class XII examinations, it did not take long for the Council of Indian School Certificate Examinations to follow suit and announce the cancellation of the ISC or Class XII exams for this year too. Other States where the BJP is in power are also likely to follow suit toeing the line of the Prime Minister that ‘Health and safety of our students is of utmost importance and there would be no compromise on this aspect.’ Manipur too is under the BJP and while the State Government has not yet said anything final on this, it is significant to note that it has also not taken a final call even on the Class X board exams conducted by the Board of Secondary Education, Manipur. This even though CBSE had earlier announced that the Class X board exam stands cancelled. Cancelled but from the initial reports that have been received so far, CBSE is set to compile the results of Class XII students as per a ‘well defined objective criteria.’ What exactly this would entail is not very clear, but to be sure criterion such as performance in the online classes, internal assignments given during the period when schools across the country were closed, the past performance including the performance in the Class X board examinations may be taken into consideration. Manipur may also take these criterion into consideration if the Government does decide to cancel the Class XII exams this year. Students whose forte has never been sitting for the exams despite the knowledge they may have gathered down the years may see the contemplated model a good opportunity to demonstrate that they can excel but for the majority of the students who have been tuned and trained to stay exam focused, the same may not be true.
Not that internal assessment and year long performance were never taken into account earlier, but the difference this time will lie in the fact that the merit of the students will be decided sans the three hour period of sitting inside the examination hall. Obvious that the understanding of the New Normal will now be longer seen only through the prism of the behaviour of an individual but also on how education should be pursued without the mandatory three hours of sitting inside the examination hall at the end of an academic year. Delhi University has already adopted the method of Open Book Examination, wherein students can answer questions with their books open via the online exam mode. It is not only the students who have been initiated into an entirely new mode of appearing for an examination but also concerns teachers who have been asked to set the question papers and the examiners too who will now have to adopt an entirely different approach from the earlier ones. Let the decision to cancel the CBSE Class XII board examinations be the new chapter in the process of learning, that not what a student has learnt throughout an academic year should be judged by a three hour performance inside the examination hall. Let the call for the New Normal usher in more novelty.