Forum urges State govt to cancel Goa Board and University exams

Mapusa: The COVID-19 Peoples’ Forum strongly objected and urged the government to cancel Std X and XII Goa Board examinations and the exams of Goa University. They have also called for declaring results based on the internal evaluations

In a written letter to the Chief Minister, the forum argued that if the exams are held as per the scheduled dates, then it will be an unnecessary risk to the health of the students and staff, since a large number of students will be travelling to the exam centres at a time when the State is not fully prepared with adequate safety measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The forum also raised concerns about the availability of equipment like sanitisers and thermal scanner guns at the exam centers and if the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for using them has been formulated.

The letter points that the government has not mentioned anything about the SOP that will be adopted when the examinations are held or if provisions have been made for sanitizing the buses and classrooms.

The forum also pointed out that students have the tendency to enter the classroom at the last moment and if the government has taken into consideration the time needed for using the safety equipment.

On a larger note, the forum said the re-opening of educational institutions will result in violation of social distancing norms, which will lead to potentially unhygienic conditions in private, public transport and school buses.

The forum also raised an alarm over the fact that the students will have to wear a mask for almost 150 minutes, which could lead to suffocation.

They also expressed concern about the conditions of the toilet facilities in many institutions and about the quality of water that will be used for washing hands.

Speaking about the trains that have resumed, the forum opined that people from orange and red zones will now enter Goa along with students, who have travelled out of Goa and have to return to answer the exams. “Will the government guarantee that the government will not be corona carriers? The State needs to be prepared for the consequences given that it is lifting a lockdown particularly in educational institutions” the Forum added.

They pointed out that there are nearly 20,000 students in the age group of 15 to 16 years, who will be answering the Std X exams and that similarly, there nearly 18,000 Std XII students of the age group of 17 to 19 years.

“The govt cannot expect this number of students to maintain social distancing as their anxiety regarding the exams will make them forget about these norms. Further, a huge number of parents will be present around the vicinity of the respective schools. If exposed to an asymptomatic student or parent, all of them may become infected and they will become carriers and a potential threat to their families too,” the forum added.

They argued that there is still time for the examinations, in the event that they are required to be conducted, given that most universities across the country have delayed reopening at least till August as per the UGC directives.

They also urged the government to only reopen educational institutions after proper safety measures and SOPs are in place and for training of those will have to use thermal guns and monitor everyone’s health

“As for new entrants at the higher secondary and college level, a carefully prepared computerized aptitude test can be administered when people are confident that the environment is safer,” they added. [H]