Central Board of Secondary Education
Government of India
27th May 2021
Subject: Request to address the plight of students applying abroad
To whomsoever it may concern,
We are active citizens of India and concerned students of Class XII for the academic year 2020-2021, studying in the Central Board of Second Education (CBSE).
We are writing this letter as a request to the Board and the Ministry of Education to reconsider their recent decision to conduct the board examination while taking in consideration the plight of students applying abroad for higher education.
This decision denies several students and my access to global opportunities and poses a barrier to our pursuit of higher education overseas. To be exact, we were a community of over 7 lakh students in 2018, and possibly, even more, this year, as per the data given by the Ministry of External Affairs.
Under the present circumstances, it would not be possible to receive my official passing certificate before July/ early August 2021; however, if it is not sent to our university, then our offer might be rescinded and/or our scholarship might be lost.
Additionally, we would have to incur the loss of an academic year and the brunt of expenses related to flight cancellation, VISA charges and other logistical costs. This is not a loss that our families or we are prepared to bear, emotionally, financially or academically. These opportunities, offers and acceptances are a product of several years of hard work and sheer commitment and have the power to transform our lives and our nation’s.
A large number of students applying abroad from India who wish to pursue their undergraduate education abroad face a similar predicament, as universities globally to the USA, UK, Canada, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and parts of Europe have the same criteria. It is not possible for us to bear the financial and academic brunt of an opportunity gone to waste like this.
Some of us contacted the CBSE toll-free number at 1800-118-004, and they were quick to tell us verbatim that students applying abroad are not a primary concern for them. We are being denied consideration simply due to the geographical location of institutions where we hope to pursue our higher education.
We are not the only students who would bear these consequences. The current socio-economic situation would force several families to incur an emotional, financial, and educational loss. This issue with the board exams, could possibly lead to the nullification of thousands of students’ academic offers and reflect poorly on the education system of India, its flexibility and its scope for students who wish to apply abroad.
For students applying abroad, it has always been advised to enroll in schools with A-levels, IB boards, etc. but if this comes into effect, this mere advice will become the norm and students will stop applying to CBSE schools because that will hinder them from applying abroad in the future.
Important Note: Even if the government is able to reach an agreement bilaterally with other nations, students will bear the brunt of this crisis as they would not be allowed to register for classes with limited seats, appear for placement exams or do any activity like normal first-year students. This would cause several students to forever miss out on fulfilling their dreams.
We humbly request you to consider the above-mentioned reasons and urge you to reconsider this decision in the interests of students across India, with a situation similar to mine, and their academic aspirations.
This issue does not just affect us, it also affects every student appearing for the CBSE class 12 board exam as delayed results lead to a delayed academic year with parts of this wave, high death rates, and the added risk of its impacting children, impacting their parents, grandparents at home, it is imprudent to conduct examination at this time. The proposals put forward on the 23rd of May, regarding shorter MCQ based exams or delayed exams of more subjects are also imprudent due to reasons:
There are presently multiple new strains of the coronavirus wreaking havoc. The numbers are increasing for most of the states, but the states where numbers are decreasing are those in which the state governments have imposed restrictions on testing. The second wave has been affecting the youth and is already claiming the lives of thousands of students in North India. The board examinations will furthermore prolong the spread of the virus in the overlap of the second and third waves, especially among the students. COVID is just the starting point- with several states like Gujarat declaring black fungus an epidemic and white and yellow fungi cases are on a rise, conducting any offline activity for students is a source of legitimate concern. Mucormycosis remains a devastating invasive fungal infection, with high mortality rates even after active management, and the numbers for this have been rising steadily for the past few weeks. Classrooms are the primary breeding grounds of Mucormycosis.
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Health problems impact not just the student but also the teacher, school staff, CBSE staff, and their family members. For most people, the breadwinners in the family and their life would be at stake. This will have a devastating impact on the economy, the confidence of the public, and mental, physical health.
The digital divide in India has been immense. Most schools have not been able to educate their underprivileged students. Conducting board exams would be the biggest dampener for those students as they would once again be let down by our inequitable system. Privileged kids, having access to online classes, resources, tuitions, coaching, etc. would outshine them by far and the gap between the haves and the have nots will tremendously increase. No one with a lack of resources would be able to shine in their careers or have a bright future if their future is decided on the basis of board exam marks.
It is often a family’s entire past, future, and present which is at stake when a child decides to apply to universities abroad, and it is the result of blood and sweat for children to receive offers from universities abroad. With universities like the University of Illinois in Urbana Champagne rescinding students’ offers due to delay in the submission of final certificates, the students are at the risk of losing out on everything that they have worked so relentlessly for all over the years.
Several students take admission in Indian Universities based on Entrance exams. If these exams are to be conducted, even if via alternative means, they cannot be in between the board exams. Thus, all students banking on the entrance exams will be devastated by the decision to conduct boards. Furthermore, since the CGBSE has decided to conduct exams via the take-home papers, if the CBSE decides to hold offline examinations, all seats in universities like the DU (which bank on the board exam, outside of the entrance exams) will go to students from other boards. Even IB Board has decided to score students on the basis of their predicted grades, based on examinations from the last 4 years- a robust model adopted by most countries in the world. I hope CBSE pays heed to this.
The student population appearing for the board exam is mostly unvaccinated, in fact, most of the students are not yet 18 years of age and will not be able to receive the vaccines in the near future. Thus, the most robust precaution that we could have taken is out of bounds for these students especially when most of the states have not even made the vaccines available for students 18+ in age. Furthermore, we have seen in the case of the IPL that COVID is not deterred by mere precautions- if daily testing, full sanitization, and fully vaccinating all cannot halt the spread of the virus in its present form, then nothing can.
Option A proposed by the CBSE is not at all a viable solution to the problem. All students will appear for examinations for the major subjects and this will again lead to the same level of anxiety from COVID, as all the students would be at risk.
Option B proposed by the CBSE is the prime example of how to discredit hard-working students. Most students who rely on the board examinations do so as they believe their ability to expand and elucidate is better than their ability to answer MCQs, otherwise, they too would have opted for the entrance exam route. All students who have been preparing for the former pattern of the board exam will be let down by the government due to this change in policy. This will be a major cause of mental stress and would lead to students feeling hopeless for their future.
This year has been like no other. It would be extremely inhumane of anyone to expect students who are grieving the loss of their entire families- one or both parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.- to appear for exams which would be a life-changing factor. It is time that we actually reward students for their knowledge and take into account their consistency in scores throughout high school or at least just the 12th grade. Cramming for the board exam is something students could get by every year but this year, it is simply asking for a student’s death wish.
"Students with mild fever can sit for MUHS exams": Maharashtra University of Health Sciences recently allowed students with mild fever and cold to appear for the upcoming health science examination (1/n) #muhs #muhsonlineexams #CancelExamsSaveStudents #muhspromote #muhspromoteus
— Youth Ki Awaaz (@YouthKiAwaaz) May 25, 2021
We as a nation need to recognize that the students are the future, and there is no fair world in which students should be made to choose between their health and a mere exam. For most parents, their only asset is their child and parents would not agree to send their kids out while the pandemic claims lives, there are no vaccinations, no medicines, no hospital beds, no oxygen, and more.
Thus, this decision of the government rides our entire future and all of our families’ sacrifices. We will never be able to forgive ourselves as a nation if we put the lives of so many bright students at stake and make them choose between their healthy life and a mere examination. Please give us the opportunity to make India proud by allowing us to fly overseas and possibly bring back our learnings for the advancement of our nation.
Thank you for considering our proposal.
Students of batch 2021