Universities should not conduct exams amid pandemic: Kapil Sibal

New Delhi: Universities should not conduct examinations in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and even holding online tests is not right as it is “discriminatory” towards poor students, former human resource development minister Kapil Sibal said on Sunday.

The senior Congress leader also said that with almost half the 2020-21 academic year of schools over without proper classes due to the COVID-19 spread, board examinations for Class 10 should not be held next year as it would burden the students unnecessarily.

“What has happened is that half the year has been lost and we don’t know how long this pandemic will continue. There is no need for Class 10 board exams for a while for these two years — this year and next year — and then they could relook at this policy,” Sibal told PTI in an interview.

Sibal, who as the HRD minister had spearheaded a reforms process in the education sector under which it was decided to abolish compulsory CBSE Board exams for Class 10, said it was a sensible policy to have been followed but when the NDA came to power they reversed that.

“Thank god they have listened to some sane advice and they have cancelled the board exams. Consider the impact it would have had, especially on the poor students who don’t have access to any online facilities,” said Sibal, who was the HRD Minister from May 2009-October 2012 in the UPA-II government.

His remarks come days after the remaining CBSE and ICSE board examinations for classes 10 and 12, scheduled to be held in July, were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Quite frankly even university exams should be postponed,” Sibal said.

Till such time there is a pandemic, there should be no exams and holding online examinations will be “extremely discriminatory” because in a lot of places in India, in remote areas, there is no facility for online examinations and the poor will be discriminated against, he said.

“See you are creating an elitist culture where the advantage goes to the rich which have access to online facilities and to those institutions which are privileged to provide online facilities and online teaching,” Sibal said