Remember final exams? The cramming, the stressing, and then finally the moment where you have to sit and disseminate all the information you learned, or think you learned, before the bell rings? Whether you most dreaded writing short essays, crunching numbers, or filling in those annoying little bubbles, no one has fond memories of big exams from high school or college. You may have felt like you would faint before they were over.
For students in India, fainting was a distinct possibility. That’s what happens when people with type 1 diabetes have to sit for hours without a snack or water break. While other students were worrying over whether or not they would do well on the exam, students with type 1 were likely wondering whether or not they’d make it through at all.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is one of the two largest recognized boards of education in India. CBSE schools adhere to certain curriculum and students must past two major exams, at level 10 and level 12, before moving on to the university level.
The tests may determine what universities the students are accepted into and if they will be able to continue on their chosen career paths. It’s a time of great stress for both students and parents—the results of the exam are a matter of social status and career success. It’s a big deal.
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The test is actually comprised of several subject examinations, about 2 to 3 hours long, over several days, over about a month-long period. Talk about stressful! The education board has just announced that this year, students with type 1 diabetes will be allowed to bring snacks and a bottle of water.
Of course, students are limited to a 500ml bottle of water, and their snacks must be kept with the exam administrator and asked for when needed. Not exactly the height of convenience, but it’s better than nothing. When the exam is so stressful that many students commit suicide each year, type 1 students at least don’t have to worry about being denied a banana.
Type 1 diabetes prevalence is rising in India, and it seems in the best interest of everyone that the board has made this change to the 2018 exam rules. Students wishing to take advantage of the new snack rule must do more than show their injection site scars—they will have to show a certificate from a medical professional, and a full diabetic history, in order to be allowed a few snacks. This information will be forwarded to the student’s principal for verification.
It looks like people with diabetes are about the toughest people there are. While the change in the CBSE rules seem both small and belated, we can hope that this softening will mean greater access for everyone in the future. Until then, good luck on the exams this year, type 1s!