SC adjourns hearing on hybrid CBSE, ISCE exams for Thursday
A Supreme Court hearing for a plea seeking changes in the offline board examinations has been adjourned for Thursday. The plea had sought that the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) Term-I exams should be conducted in a hybrid model instead. A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravi Kumar heard the matter.
- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CBSE had to cancel its board exams for the academic year 2020-21.
- This year, both CBSE and CISCE will be holding exams in two phases: Term-I and Term-II.
- Safety concerns were raised after students were allowed to appear in offline mode only.
- Notably, the CBSE exams for minor subjects will commence from Tuesday.
During the hearing, the bench said the plea would be tagged with another—originally scheduled for hearing on January 4—seeking similar relief. The two plea were different, argued the petitioners' counsel senior advocate Sanjay Hegde. The latest petition seeks hybrid online-offline exams, while the other seeks offline-only exams. Hegde said their petition required urgent consideration as "exams are going to start from tomorrow."
The SC then took note of the urgency of the latest petition, which was filed by six students. Both pleas will now be heard on Thursday (November 18). The bench will also consider if both matters are separate.
The petition argued that the offline board exam could become a "super-spreader" event amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Continuous exposure through offline exams sharply increases the risk of COVID-19 infection, it argues. It says the decision to conduct offline exams is "arbitrary" and violates the "Right to Health." The petitioners maintained that a hybrid model of examination is the need of the hour.
Both CBSE and CISCE had changed their exam patterns for the academic year 2021-22. Among the two phases, the Term-I exam will be in an MCQ (multiple choice question) format, while the Term-II exam will be subjective. This year, practicals/internals will also constitute 50% of total marks. Students have demanded that the Term-I exam should be held in a hybrid offline-online mode.
The CBSE Class X exams for major subjects will commence from November 30, and Class XII exams will start from December 1. However, CBSE exams for minor subjects will begin on Tuesday for Class XII and Wednesday for Class X.
Ahead of the SC hearing, a large number of school students took to Twitter, Facebook, Change.org, and other platforms to voice their concerns. They demanded "vaccination before the examination" and better safety norms for offline exams. Notably, India has not commenced COVID-19 vaccinations for the under-18 demographic yet. They also objected to the revised exam pattern for this year.