The Union education ministry plans to consult students and their parents on the holding of examinations as a fresh cycle of key tests is set to begin with the onset of the New Year, a senior government official said.
With the Covid-19 pandemic continuing, the education ministry thinks that the examination calendar for 2021 will need to be tweaked; students and their parents are the most important stakeholders in the process.
Among the key exams that have to be conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) and Central Board of Secondary Examination (CBSE) are the Joint Entrance Examination (Main) for admission to engineering schools, Class X and XII exams and the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for students aspiring to study medicine or dental science..
In 2020, most of these exams were rescheduled, but were ultimately held with strict safety protocols in place.
“The ministry is planning to hold a consultation exercise for the next round of exams. It is likely that the process could begin in a day or two and then depending on the opinion of various stakeholders, Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank could apprise students of the decisions taken,” said the official cited above.
The decision could be taken as early as a week, the official added, requesting anonymity.
Among the important examination scheduled early next year are JEE (Main), which could be shifted to February or even March, from the conventional January.
The CBSE board exams may be delayed by a few weeks from their typical February-March schedule. For the CBSE class X and XII board exams, the ministry will have to consider how many schools have completed their syllabi and how many have not. There are also concerns that there could be an urban-rural divide; schools with inadequate online tools risk falling behind.
No final decision on dates has yet been taken, said a second ministry official.
On Thursday, the NTA conducted one of the last major exams in 2020 – the CSIR-UGC NET exam to select candidates for the award of junior research fellowships and determining their eligibility for appointment as lecturers in universities and colleges..The exam was postponed in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry because of cyclone Nivar.
The JEE (Main) exam for 2020 was held in September instead of April.
Over 200,000 candidates did not take the JEE (Main) exam held earlier this month, a figure that is more than double the number of absentees the previous year, according to data shared by the Union education ministry in the Rajya Sabha. According to the data, of the 858,395 registered candidates, 649,612 took the exam this year.
Candidates can take the JEE (Main) twice every year. The first test is held in January and the second in April. In 2020, the second test could not be held in April because of the pandemic.