Many parents unhappy over government’s decision on board exams

The decision is inappropriate and disappointing, says one of the parents

Amid the lockdown and an increasing number of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 cases in the country, many parents are disappointed with the government’s decision to have the board exams for class X and XII as scheduled earlier – from February 14-28.

However, the Ministry of Education (MoE) issued a notification on January 21 stating that the scheduled dates for board examinations will remain unaltered despite the spike in community cases of the Covid-19 in the country.

In the notification, the MoE asked the schools all over the country to develop suitable infrastructure to convert the schools into containment centers and to take the necessary steps to enable the large number of students to take up their board examinations.

However, the government’s decision has left the parents worried and anxious. Several parents have shown concerns over the government’s “hasty” and “unheard” decision.

Tashi Dema, a parent residing in Thimphu said, “Such a hasty decision by the education ministry is a major concern especially when the Thromde schools lack necessary amenities to be considered as boarding schools.”

“The self-containment mode in Punatsangchhu Hydroelectric Project Authority (PHPA) was a big failure and we are not sure how this containment mode with such a large number of students will fare,” said another parent in Thimphu.

Another parent said that rescheduling the board exams at a later date could be a wise decision because no containment measures can guarantee 100% safety unless the virus is eradicated from the entire country and stability is achieved.

“Moreover, students aren’t at peace; it will be difficult for them to face the crucial exam at such alarming times,” he added.  

However, what came as an assurance for the concerned parents is when Foreign Minister Dr. Tandi Dorji, who is also a member of the National Covid-19 Task Force, said that the board exams would be postponed if the situation doesn’t improve.

Meanwhile, the statement from the Foreign Minister is contrary to what the Prime Minister had said during the Zoom Meeting among members of the National COVID-19 Taskforce and the health Technical Advisory Group and media personnel on January 21.

“Rather than postponing the board exam, it is vital to do the exams on scheduled time as there is no guarantee that the situation would improve,” said the Prime Minister.  

This statement has just added to the parent’s confusion and frustration.

“I expect the government to be firm in their decision but the news is constantly changing,” said a parent.

As per the MoE’s notification, all schools in the country including those without boarding facilities will serve as containment centers and the students will be required to report by 30th of January after testing for Covid-19 and students will be held in the containment centers until their exams are completed.

However, on January 27, 2022, the MoE reminded the public once more about the prospect of deferring the board exams if the circumstances required it. The notification further specified that all inter-dzongkhag staff and students’ mobility would be suspended until January 31, with those schools already in confinement mode continuing as usual.

Meanwhile, the students of class X and X11 have already begun enrolling in their respective schools as per the notification of MoE.

Talking about the safety measures in places, according to an official from the ministry, the arrangements have been made to provide the best facilities taking into consideration students’ health and so on. The government is to provide cooks for schools and reorganize the infrastructure to the best of its ability.

“We have deployed all the teachers teaching class X and X11 inside the schools with students so that they can provide the necessary support to the students,” the official added.    Meanwhile, all the students will get a stipend of Nu 1,500 for the extra equipment required from the government. 

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu