While Chief Minister MK Stalin's decision of cancelling the Class 12 Board exams in Tamil Nadu was welcomed by the stakeholders on one hand, on other hand, it has kept the experts and educationalists in a strong divide over how the Class 12 students must be awarded the marks for their graduation towards the higher education. The divide has come when the state government has installed a panel to form a criterium towards awarding the marks for the students.
On Saturday, after episodes of discussions and meetings, Chief Minister MK Stalin has cancelled the Class 12 board exams in the state. In a press release, Stalin said, "The stakeholders had sounded in favour and against conducting the exams but all of them are affirmed in the opinion of saving the physical and mental health of the students. "The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is still posing severity in several parts of the state. The medical experts have warned about the emergence of the third wave of the pandemic."
He said, "Moreover, as per the current norms, people who are above the age of 18 are allowed to receive COVID-19 vaccines and the students who are below 18 years would be at the state of not applicable for vaccines. The experts had suggested that assembling such students in the same place and at the same time could increase the spread among them." "As per the advisory from the medical experts and the suggestions from various stakeholders, the Class 12 board exams are cancelled this year", he added.
In order to build criteria to provide marks to the students, he said, "A panel headed by principal secretary of School Education Department would be formed and the panel will consist of higher education secretary, Vice-Chancellor of Madras University, and headmasters of the schools. This panel will research and formulate the criteria on how the students can be awarded marks and it will furnish the report to the government soon." The release said that the admission for higher education including in colleges and universities will be done based on the marks awarded by the criteria.
As the panel has begun studying and analyzing the ways for awarding marks to the Class 12 students in Tamil Nadu, the experts and educationalists are in the divide over how the panel should decide the criteria. While some experts say that the government must consider the school attendance, performance in practicals, and the marks of school exams to provide the final marks, some educationalists urge the government to consider the Class 11 marks of the students.
As there was no common quarterly or half-yearly exam for Class 12 students in the state, the principals had demanded the state government to consider the Class 11 exam marks of the students in the criteria. According to a news agency, a principal of a school in Chennai said, "Apart from the board exams, there was no common exam conducted for Class 12 students. So, the best way going forward would be to award weightage to the common board exams when they were in Class 11."
He further said, "They can also include marks from the Class 12 practical and internal exams completed in April this year." It must be noted that the school education department had completed the practical exams for all Class 12 students before the closure of the schools. On the other hand, another principal in Chennai said that the school education department should consider Class 11 board exam marks for theory papers and they should be kept as the yardstick to measure the performance.
Renowned educationalist Prince Gajedrababu has welcomed the decision of cancelling the Class 12 board exams in the state and said it was taken with the best interests of the students in mind. He noted that the decision taken by the state government is based on a medical report and the fact that there is no provision to vaccinate children below 18 years of age.
Educationalist Jayaprakash Gandhi had called the decision of the state government to cancel the board exams as bold and in a fashion of prioritizing the health of the students. He said that the Tamil Nadu government should wait and take decisions on awarding marks to Class 12 students by considering decisions taken by other state boards. By citing that the government should consider all best practices, Gandhi demanded the government to evaluate the performances of the students based on the best practice.