The deferment of the ICSE and Indian School Certificate exams, at any rate till the first week of June, was only to be expected after the recent postponement of the CBSE’s Class 12 exam and cancellation of the Class 10 evaluation.

The decision of the Secondary board in West Bengal, though, remains open to question considering the overriding concern over the assembly elections. There are many schools that are now doubling up as voting centres with gun-toting watchdogs in uniform.

The academic indecisiveness is likely to persist till the evening of 2 May. It might be tempting to conclude that yet another academic year has virtually gone to waste, tragically on account of the pandemic and its still more daunting resurgence. The perception can at best be greeted with a modified ‘yes’.

Admittedly, the cascading effect will be considerable as college admissions and entry to the Plus 2 stage will almost certainly be affected. Students have suffered a jolt at a crucial stage in their search of learning. Online learning is no substitute for conventional classroom instruction primarly because not all students can afford hi-tech equipment at home, let alone being computer-savvy.

There is dissatisfaction too at the level of teachers over the matrix of evaluation, on which will depend the assimilation of learning and the future plans of the taught. Hence arguably the confusion at the threshold of senior school students generally.

Not the least because ICSE candidates will be given the option of writing what they call an “offline exam”, along with Class 12 students, or “not writing at all”. The choice that was offered by the ICSE Council on Friday is less than fair and is likely to make confusion worse confounded, even intensify the examination stress that has already been caused by the pandemic and the dire uncertainty over classroom lectures and examinations.

At the core of the controversy is the absence of uniformity in internal assessments by schools. It is imperative that the system that is adopted will ensure parity across institutions. It ought not to be based on one particular exam and should be embedded in the year-long assessment through the conventional first, second and third term exams.

There is considerable delay and confusion in the conduct of crucial public exams and this is bound to impinge on the duration of Class Eleven. There is no scope for truncated learning.

A not dissimilar confusion has affected the senior students of CBSE schools. The proposal on what they call a “robust formative assessment system” is still rather fogbound. A clear-cut method of evaluation is imperative for the future of the students.

Just as the decision to postpone the Class12 exam has been welcomed in view of the exponential rise in Covid cases, the cancellation of the Class Ten exam has been greeted with despondency. There is no scope for tinkering in place of a firm decision.