Class 10 Board Exams Cancelled In Tamil Nadu, Puducherry; All Students Promoted

More than nine lakh Class 10 students in Tamil Nadu will be promoted without the board examinations this year as the state government on Tuesday announced cancellation of the twice-postponed annual exercise slated to start from June 15, citing rising COVID-19 cases.

The cancellation of the exams, originally scheduled to begin from March 27 and first put off to June 1 due to the lockdown, was announced by Chief Minister K Palaniswami, bringing relief to the students and parents who were worried in the backdrop of the pandemic situation.

It came a day after the Madras High Court said it cannot put lives of over nine lakh students at stake and asked the government to consider postponement in view of mounting cases.

Neighbouring Union Territory of Puducherry, which does not have a separate education board and follows the Tamil Nadu state board syllabus and exam pattern, also followed suit and announced scrapping the examinations for its 16,000 odd Class 10 students for this year.

In both Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, 80 per cent marks would be based on students' performance in quarterly and half yearly exams and the remaining 20 per cent shall depend on their attendance.

The exams for certain Class 11 subjects which could not be held earlier were also cancelled in both Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and all students would be promoted.

Tamil Nadu's decision came a day after Telangana government announced a similar measure, saying it would not be possible to hold the Class 10 exam due to the spread of coronavirus and about 5.35 lakh students would be promoted.

"Considering the representation of parents, the present trend of virus spread and to protect students from the pathogen, board examinations scheduled for Class 10, and for subjects that could not be conducted for Class 11 are fully cancelled and students are declared promoted," Palaniswami said in a televised address.

His announcement came as a huge relief to parents and students who were concerned about taking the exams in view of rising COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu, which has the second highest number of infections in the country after Maharashtra.

Opposition parties, including DMK, and ruling AIADMK's ally PMK, which were against the conduct of the exams, welcomed the decision.

Shortly after Palaniswami's address, Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy told a hurriedly convened press conference that Class 10 examination will be cancelled. "Now that the Class 10 public examination has been cancelled in Tamil Nadu we too declare cancellation of examinations for the students in Puducherry and Karaikal regions adopting the Tamil Nadu pattern," he said.

As many as 16,710 candidates were to have appeared for the examination in the two regions.

On Monday, the Madras High Court, hearing a petition by a teachers' association challenging the Tamil Nadu government's decision to conduct the exams amid the pandemic, said it was prima facie convinced that the state has to be restrained from going ahead with the schedule.

Palaniswami said while the government had made preparations to hold the exams from June 15 to 25, the matter went to the High Court which asked the dispensation to take a relook in view of soaring COVID-19 cases and the government made a detailed study of the matter.

"Under the present circumstances, coronavirus cases are on the rise continuously in Chennai and some districts. Epidemiologists have opined that there is no scope for reduction in the spread of the virus in a short period of time," he said.

Welcoming the cancellation of the exams, DMK President M K Stalin said had the government taken this decision in advance, the anxiety and "mental agony" of students and parents could have been avoided. In a tweet, he also wanted the government to fully focus on checking the spread of COVID-19, which has affected over 33,000 people in the state.

DMK had been demanding that the examinations be cancelled. Other opposition parties including CPI (M) also hailed the government's decision. "Parents and students had been fearing about exams during the times of pandemic and this decision has given them peace of mind," PMK founder leader S Ramadoss said.

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