If the Tamil Nadu government has its way, 9.5 lakh students of class 10 will have to appear for their pending Class 10 State Board in the first 12 days of June. The School Education ministry headed by KA Sengottaiyan has released the timetable that envisages exams for seven subjects that include English, Maths, Science and Social Science. The exams were to originally start on 27 March but were postponed due to the Corona virus pandemic.
But the big question is whether parents will be willing to send the students to appear in the exam given the spiraling numbers in Tamil Nadu. As on 11 May, Tamil Nadu had recorded 8002 cases (5895 of them still active cases). Monday saw a high 798 cases, 538 of them in Chennai. While Tamil Nadu may claim it is detecting high numbers because it is testing the highest in India, the fact remains that the situation is hardly under control.
Though the education department intends to ensure social distancing inside exam halls, the sheer number of students and the corresponding invigilation staff and police personnel on duty would make this a herculean task for the administration to handle. There is lack of clarity over how a student who may be residing inside a containment zone will be allowed to appear for the exams. The ministry is yet to clarify if thermal scanners will be in place at every examination centre to check the temperature of every student and invigilator.
The Andhra Pradesh Education Secretary told Filter Kaapi Live that dates on when to conduct the exams have been decided and the timetable will be issued soon. Telangana too intends to conduct the Class 10 exams and is awaiting the nod of the High court. That is because in March, the court had asked the government to postpone the exams after students appeared for the first three papers. The government has decided to double the number of exam centres as well as arrange transport for students.
But significantly, the teachers union has opposed the move to conduct these exams, arguing it will put a huge burden on the system.
Incidentally Punjab, after initially expressing a desire to hold the SSC exams, reversed its decision and decided to promote students to class 11.
Unlike the state boards that will need to bother about a limited region, both the CBSE (that has announced exams for class 12 students between 1-15 July) and the ICSE/ISC will need to ensure all states are on board and willing to provide the infrastructure to hold the exams. If big states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh go ahead with the state board exams, that will make the task of the CBSE and ICSE easier. But if even one major state or city like say Mumbai that has reported a high number of cases, expresses its inability to help conduct the exams for its students, the central boards will be in a bind.