Many have argued that this may trigger a third COVID-19 wave, she warns.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wrote to Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank on Monday, cautioning the government on conducting regular offline Board exams for class 12 students.
Ms. Vadra warned that many had argued that this may trigger a third wave and there would be human, emotional and psychological cost of holding examination at a time when children were already under immense pressure.
Though some had suggested fully vaccinating students and teachers before holding the exams, Ms Vadra argued that it was too late now for the current batch, and it could be the template for the batch appearing for Board exams next year.
Passing on suggestions that she received from parents and students of class 12, Ms. Vadra said if the exams were held forcibly, then many parents had demanded making “the Ministry of Education, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) board and all those directly or indirectly responsible for such a decision legally liable for any mishap and/or damage due to disease or death that might take place as a consequence of their decision”.
“The unimaginable pain we have suffered collectively as a nation in these last few months will probably be imprinted on the individual and collective psyches of our children for the rest of their lives. How can we expect them to set aside all that they are witnessing and focus on their board exams,” she asked.
Ms. Vadra said many parents and students had suggested internal assessment and were overwhelmingly against going to crowded examination centres for fear of exposing other vulnerable relatives at home, especially aged grandparents and ailing parents, to COVID-19 risks.
Citing Uttar Pradesh example
She cited the example of Uttar Pradesh panchayat elections where, the Congress leader claimed, 1,600 teachers lost their lives as COVID-19 protocol and precautions were thrown to the wind.
She said countless children were already battling trauma, anxiety, depression and helplessness, and it would only get worse if the decision on CBSE Boards were prolonged.
She cited Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh conducting an open book exam at home. Exam booklets could be picked up from schools or centres and returned after a specified period.
“This would enable students to give the exams in a safe and conducive environment,” she said. Asking the HRD Minister to do a rethink, Ms Vadra wrote: “It will be a great injustice if they are pushed into circumstances that endanger their lives, when it is completely unnecessary, and it will be a great pity if we let them down at this trying time in their lives.”
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