Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has joined his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal urging the Centre to postpone board examinations as a ferocious second wave of coronavirus grips India.
Captain Singh, in a letter to Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank', asked the government to take an early decision about CBSE, ICSE and state board exams scheduled to begin next month. He also added that Punjab state board has broadly aligned its examination dates with those of the CBSE.
The Chief Minister's appeal comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds a meeting today with the Education Minister and other top officials as demands to cancel or postpone board exams grows.
"The steady increase in COVID-19 cases in most states of the country has created a sense of great apprehension and anguish among students and parents alike regarding the Board examinations for classes 10 and 12," Captain Singh's letter read.
Captain Singh pointed to the prevailing Covid situation and stressed that "it would only be appropriate that a decision is taken forthwith to postpone class 10 and 12 board examinations."
This would also allow the Centre and states to plan in a better way to conduct the exams once the situation normalises, he said in an official statement.
Have written to Union Education Minister @DrRPNishank seeking postponement of CBSE and ICSE Board examinations in view of the surge of #Covid19 cases in the country. Request the Government of India for an early decision in this regard. pic.twitter.com/qOShz1hjN3— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) April 14, 2021
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too had made a similar appeal on Tuesday.
"Conducting board exams can lead to largescale spread of coronavirus... alternative methods of assessment can be explored. Students can be promoted on basis of either online exams or internal assessment. The board exams should be cancelled," he said.
Captain Singh also joins his Congress colleagues Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who have called for cancellation or postponement of exams.
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi has urged the government to consult with all stakeholders before making "sweeping" decisions. His sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said it would be "downright irresponsible" of boards like the CBSE to force students to sit for the exams in the circumstances.
Over one lakh students and several parents' associations have written to the union government asking for either postponement or online examinations amid a surge in Covid cases.
Both the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) have said that adequate safety arrangements are being made for students and all COVID-19 guidelines will be followed during the exams.
CBSE exam dates were announced in February - Class 10 and 12 exams will begin May 4, with all exams to be held in the offline-written mode. At that time daily Covid cases in India were fewer than 15,000.
Concerns over students' safety is all the more serious because children below 18 have not been cleared to get the vaccine; currently only people over 45 are eligible to get the shot.