The Maharashtra government on Monday told Bombay High Court that SSC (Class X) and HSC (Class XII) exams could not be compared as the latter was a relatively more important milestone for students as their careers depended on it.
The state government, in an affidavit, said SSC exams for this year were cancelled amid the coronavirus outbreak after considering the safety of students, teachers, parents and other stakeholders.
The affidavit, by the state’s School Education and Sports department deputy secretary Rajendra Pawar, was in response to a PIL filed by a professor, Dhananjay Kulkarni, challenging the April 19 decision of the state government to cancel Class X exams this year.
The HC, on May 20, had come down heavily on the state government saying it was making a mockery of the education system, and had directed it to file its affidavit on the plea.
The HC also sought an explanation as to why the state government was holding Class XII exams.
The state government’s affidavit said Class XII exams are postponed presently and a final decision on it would be taken after the Centre makes a move on the national level.
”It was thought fit that 12th board examinations were a relatively more important milestone in the education of the students as their future careers depend upon the same as compared to the 10th standard examination” the affidavit said.
”Usually, unlike 10th standard, after 12th standard the path of the students’ overall career is decided,” it said, adding that students in 12th standard are ”more matured, independent, socially aware and bodily and mentally fit” than those in Class X.
It is like comparing apples with cheese only because both are edible, the state government said in the affidavit.
The state government said it cannot be held that SSC exams cannot be cancelled just because no decision has been taken on HSC exams.
The affidavit said holding SSC exams, for which around 16 lakh students appear each year, was a ”mammoth exercise” also involving teachers and parents as well as the police and transport system.
It said the academic year of 2020-21 underwent turmoil with physical classes getting stopped and teachers managing with online classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Post the second wave of infections, the state government, after consulting stakeholders, first decided to postpone SSC exams till June, and then, on April 19, decided to cancel it.
”The decision to cancel 10th board exams was taken by the state government after giving primary consideration not only to the safety and welfare but also the lives of students, examiners, teaching and non-teaching staff and many others who would be involved in conducting them,” the affidavit said.
The state government told court the number of COVID-19 cases was decreasing gradually but the situation was still not in full control and there was pressure on the health care system.
It also said there was a threat of a third wave of the pandemic which medical experts say may affect children between 12 and 18 years of age.
The affidavit added that the government has to also come up with a formula on how to evaluate the students.
The HC is expected to hear the matter on June 1.