The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday (February 4) announced its decision to scrap the September 2019 Government order that was meant to introduce Public exams for State board students of classes 5th and 8th, starting March-April 2020. After examining the requests received and feedback received from the stakeholders, it has been decided to scrap the earlier Government order and the existing system of exams will prevail, read a statement released by School Education Minister K.A. Sengottaiyan.
Over 20 lakh students across the state of Tamil Nadu sit for the public examinations that are held between March and April, as Tamil Nadu is the first state to implement the amendment to the Right to Education (RTE) Act that scrapped the no-detention policy. However, the government had also stated that it would follow the no-detention policy despite conducting a board exam for three years till 2022.
The move to introduce board exams for classes 5 and 8 had caused uproar amidst activists and educationalists. They have maintained that forcing children from the age of 10 to 13 to sit through a board exam would not just exert unnecessary pressure on them at a young age but also lead to large number of dropouts, especially of girl children, at a time when the enrollment rates are quite high in Tamil Nadu.
Stakeholders highlight that such a policy could end up causing an increase in child labour as parents of “non-performing” or “under-performing” students who belong to lesser fortunate sections of society would discourage their wards from continuing their schooling. Activists have emphasized that having board exams for classes 5 and 8 would only deprive the children of the freedom and joy, as they would be pressured by parents to perform well in the board exams right from their 5th grade up until they complete their schooling.
A few days ago there had been reports of a Class 8 student who had committed suicide near Chennai, with parents suspecting that he had taken the extreme step over exam-related stress.
In September 2019, the Tamil Nadu Government had announced that board exams will be conducted for students of classes 5 and 8. Shortly After the then government order was issued, School Education Minister KA Sengottaiyan said that the results of these examinations will not be published by the government for the first three years. The Minister added that leniency was being provided so that students could have time to improve their skills gradually over this period of time and that this proposal had received good feedback from parents.
The announcement had drawn flak from political parties in Tamil Nadu including AIADMK’s ally PMK, and the opposition DMK and CPI(M).