Back when I was at school, I remember cribbing about exams and calling my friends anxiously to figure out what was going to be in the paper. This year, due to the coronavirus outbreak, the final board exams of the IB and A levels were cancelled. While this sounds like a dream for a few, it is an absolute disaster for many students.
Remember those times when we didn’t care about any exams before the board exams because they didn’t matter? Well, that’s the exact thinking which may be getting multiple students into trouble this year. All the students who were set to give their boards this year will be graded on everything they did before their boards! Think of all the trouble for those who waited for the final exams to prove their hard work and results. While a few consistent hard workers are celebrating their easy entry without boards into their dream universities, there are many who see no future for themselves at the moment and are very uncertain.
The coronavirus outbreak has impacted the education system worldwide and has crippled it in a sense. Online exams reduce credibility to a large degree because there is no way of checking if the student copied in their exam. Completely cancelling an exam is also not the best way of dealing with the issue because the students were not prepared for it, and had their career strategically placed on the final board exam.
There are many universities in the UK which give IB students admission based on their predicted grades. For those who got into these universities, with the boards cancelled, they just may have easier access to their dream universities. However, now, UK universities will have more people who are eligible than they had planned. How then will they decide whom to accept into their institutions? How will they condition their offers now (let’s assume that coronavirus ends and the borders open for students to study abroad)?
For the students who were applying to India after their IB boards, their entry depended on the board exams itself! How will the cancellation of boards impact them? There was previously one route which students knew for clearing school and going to university. However, with the board exams cancelled, there is immense uncertainty about how students will be graded, their college applications will be processed, acceptances and finally going abroad to study! There’s also a tough question set for them – if coronavirus continues and the borders are closed, would students be willing to pay the same amount for a course online, as they would for going abroad, building contacts and getting a lot more exposure?
There is also an entire generation of MBA students who are giving exams and writing papers from home. A generation which paid a high amount to study a course abroad, and was forced to move back home and do an online course. Is it ethical on the part of universities to make students pay the residence fees for a residence they are not even living in? Or to make students pay the same amount for a course which has now moved online? These ethical questions will need some answering as the year develops and if no cure is found to the virus.
The entire situation with education in the world reflects that the education system is dependent on physical presence in classrooms. Coronavirus has shown that the biggest strength in the system, to bring students together for education is also a flaw, because it may not always be possible. Considering that the world may have other pandemics in the future, or any other situations where students are unable to leave the safe space of their homes, the education system would be crippled because it relies so heavily on physical presence. Learning and growth would stop.
Let’s also take a moment to think about the graduating classes of 2020, which waited for the moment of their graduation, for years, to wear the graduation hats on their head, and throw it in the air when the moment comes. The batch, which worked hard all year long, to have their farewell and celebrations cancelled last minute. The batch which had virtual graduations and did not get the chance to hug their friends a goodbye or to make promises to stay in touch. Our hearts go out to you, the batch of 2020!