Students should not be asked to sit for Class 12 Board exams without being vaccinated, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister has written to Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, underlining that a new deadlier strain of the coronavirus - B.1.617 - is sweeping through the country and forcing students to write exams will be "insensitive and also dangerous".
"We believe that no child should be called in to write exams without being vaccinated. After vaccination, of the two options, the exams should be conducted using option "B" advanced by the Education Ministry and the Government of India," said Manish Sisodia, who also doubles up as Delhi Education Minister.
During a meet over the weekend, the Central Board of Secondary Education suggested two options and a "flexible approach" for the exams, which were postponed in view of the second wave of Covid infection.
The Ministry had asked the states to send their feedback by today. It further said the centre will examine the suggestions and inform students in this regard before June 1.
"I say it with great humbleness that the two options presented before us by the Education Ministry, Government of India are not an answer to the challenge we have at our hands. Both options not only put children in the harm's way but also ignore their mental state," said Mr Sisodia.
Under the second option, 90-minute exams -- instead of the usual three-hour version -- will be held in 19 major subjects. The students have to appear in one language and three elective subjects only. Based on their performance in these subjects, the result of fifth and the sixth subjects, as the case may be, will be assessed. The exams will be held at designated and limited number of exam centres.
The students can take the exams at their own schools. "As the question papers will be delivered in electronic format to the centres, these exams do not need elaborate logistics and can be deployed and conducted in a flexible and responsive manner," the CBSE said in their suggestions.
The Deputy Chief Minister offered two suggestions to the centre.
"The centre should ask experts if Covishield and Covaxin, two vaccines currently being administered to those in the 18-44 age group, be given to children aged 17.5 years. If the experts agree, then around 95 per cent children who are over 17.5 years should be vaccinated on priority. Their teachers should be vaccinated, too," he said.
The central government, he said, should immediately speak to Pfizer company and buy the approved vaccine for Indian children above 12 years.
The Minister argued that that the whole exercise of vaccinating Class 12 students and their teachers can be completed in 3-4 months.
"If it is not possible to vaccinate children, it is our suggestion to scrap the Board exams this year," he said.
He further added that a meeting should be called within the next one month to deliberate over the 2022 exams.
Earlier, the board exams were scheduled between May 4 and June 14, instead of the usual mid-February. But the exams were postponed amid the countrywide Covid crisis