Published: 10th June 2020
Conduct or postpone exams, don't cancel them: Why Karnataka's parents and SSLC students are different from other Southern states
Suresh Kumar S, Primary and Secondary Education Minister is keen on conducting SSLC exams and around 8.48 lakh students are expected to appear this year
After the Tamil Nadu and Telangana governments cancelled SSLC exams, the Karnataka Government has come under a lot of pressure to follow suit and cancel the SSLC exams. However, Suresh Kumar S, Karnataka's Primary and Secondary Education Minister did not budge and has decided to conduct the SSLC exams on June 25 - after trey have been delayed nearly three months due to the COVID pandemic. He has also been conducting continuous meetings with education experts, doctors and officials. A few hours ago, he also posted on his Facebook page about travelling 4725 kms across 34 districts in Karnataka to ensure that these exams take place without any hurdles. He mentioned in this post, "Students' safety is on the radar and it will be prioritised even during the exams."
Amidst all these decisions and rumours and news floating around about the board exams, parents and students have been besieged with fear and worry. Sujatha N, an RTE activist whose daughter will be writing the SSLC exams this year, says, "As a parent, I would say that cancelling exams or mass promoting them will not help children or parents in any way. Psychologically, all the children are impacted due to the cancellation of exams two months ago. They have put in all their efforts to prepare for their exams when the timetable was announced for the second time. On what criteria will children be graded or promoted? We cannot consider the pre-board examination marks because some children might have not done well in the pre-board exams but they might perform well in the final exams."
Emphasising the need for motivating children during exams, she says, "Exams are meant to boost confidence and motivate children to do better. They help us understand the capability of the child. There are many children who come from poor families who are dependent on merit seats and it is their marks which help them get this seat. Such children will be deprived of getting into good institutions for higher education. The private institutions will easily give admissions to children who can come through management quota."
Sujata also stressed on postponing the exams because of the current COVID situation in Karnataka where the cases are going to peak. She explains, "We are ready for the postponing of the exams. These cases will come down for sure. They can conduct the exams either in August or even December. It is fine even if these children will lose one academic year. But it will definitely help them. SSLC and PUC-2 are two crucial points for children throughout their career. How will they be able to get seats in medical or engineering streams or even get selected in the campus recruitments where most of the companies consider SSLC marks also? At the end of the day, Education is not everything when compared to health but at the same time, one must not compromise on the part of the exams."
Meanwhile, Syed Akbar, a cycle shop owner, is the father of a girl who is studying SSLC in Enlight English Medium School in Hal. He says, "My daughter is full of fear and tension wondering if these exams will get cancelled. Plus there will be pushed a year back if the exams are cancelled. It is the question of her future. Let the government give importance to the safety of the children, take all the necessary measures and conduct these exams. She has been studying day and night and if they cancel it now, then it will only end in disappointment."
Among the many education experts that Suresh Kumar consulted, is Dr Niranjanaradhya V P, well-known as a Development Educationist and Mentor of School Development and Monitoring Committees (SDMC) in Karnataka. When we asked for his suggestions to the government, he says, "I have already given two suggestions to the Education Minister. Either they conduct these exams at the class level so that every school will have more classes and social distancing is maintained at a higher level or the government consider the marks of preliminary exams. By conducting these exams, the government is only putting the children's health in danger. There are many students who come from poor families and rural backgrounds and if they fail in these exams, then there are chances of them dropping out of education. I am more worried about the post exam results than conducting these exams."
When we asked him about Suresh Kumar's reaction to his suggestions, he says, "We can see his reaction across the media. He is very keen on going ahead with these exams."