Appearing for Class 10 and 12 board exams twice a year will not be mandatory for students, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told PTI in an interview on Sunday. The provision has been introduced only to reduce the stress caused by the fear among students of doing poorly in a single opportunity, he said.

“If any student feels that he is completely prepared and is satisfied with the score in the first set of exams, he can choose not to appear for the next exams,” the minister said. “Nothing will be mandatory.”

Under a new curriculum framework introduced in August, the education ministry had announced that board examinations will be held twice a year and students will be allowed to retain their best score.

Under the new framework, subjects in Class 11 and Class 12 will not be restricted to streams and students will get the flexibility to choose from them.

“School boards are to develop capacities to offer ‘on demand’ exams in due course of time,” the education ministry had said in its announcement. “Besides board exam test developers and evaluators, they will have to go through university-certified courses before taking up this work.”

On Sunday, Pradhan told PTI that the education ministry was trying to introduce the system to hold two board examinations from next year itself. He claimed to have received positive feedback from students about the new system of examinations.

“The students often get stressed thinking they lost a year, their chance is gone or could have performed better,” he said.

The minister also expressed concerns about the rise in the number of student suicides in Rajasthan’s Kota city, which is a hub of coaching centres for entrance examinations for medical and engineering courses.

As many as 26 students have died by suicide in Kota this year. Last year, 15 students had killed themselves.

“It is a very sensitive issue,” Pradhan told PTI on Sunday. “No lives should be lost... they are our children. It is our collective responsibility to ensure the students are stress-free.”