Phurpa Lhamo 

The Ministry of Education (MoE) has deferred the board examinations for Classes X and XII yesterday, which were scheduled to begin on February 14.

The new exam dates would be announced soon, the ministry said in its notification yesterday.

According to the notification the deferral of exams was considered given the increasing trend of Covid-19 cases in the country posing more risk to students and staff.

“While the students and teachers in self-containment mode are advised to continue their stay in respective schools and facilities, the ministry would like to request those considering to travel to wait for the confirmation of examination dates,” the notification stated.

According to Education Secretary Karma Tshering, if the situation improves, the dzongkhags could decide whether or not to allow students into schools. 

He added that the ministry was asking dzongkhag administrations to make certain decisions based on the Covid-19 situation in the dzongkhag and with approval from the Covid-19 Task Force. “As and when the situation improves, if the dzongkhag finds it feasible and has approval from the Covid-19 Task Force, then they can have students go to school. That decision, we leave to the dzongkhag.”   

With the deferment, classes are expected to be hampered.

“There will be implications, but we will discuss them. 

We are also looking into the implications of school openings,” said Karma Tshering.

Prior to the decision, the MoE held meetings with various sector heads, including education officers, teachers, and principals.

Kuensel learned that the meeting discussed two major issues: automatic promotion of Class X students and when the board exams should be conducted.

According to an individual who attended the meeting, the majority were against the idea of automatic promotion of Class X students to Class XI based on class assessments and the trial exam. 

“Almost 90 percent were against it, as there were other issues when doing so,” said a participant.

Secondly, the meeting discussed if the exams should be deferred. Many reasoned that it makes sense to postpone the exams.

A principal said deferring the examinations was necessary because conducting exams in containment mode wasn’t safe with the community cases.

He added that if students had been in containment mode prior to rising community cases, it would have been safer.

Flexibility on students going to schools without boarding facilities, especially in urban areas, was also discussed.

They also discussed if all schools across Bhutan should hold the exams together.

The ministry compiled and reviewed these discussion points before the decision was announced yesterday.