|A student in front of a cyber cafe
Calcutta, June 15: Last year’s fiasco — on papers and inside courtrooms — cast a shadow on this year’s Madhyamik results, forcing the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education away from tried and tested conventions.
“Provisional, not final,” was what officials said as they picked a Sunday during the summer vacation to announce this year’s results that found 70.45 per cent candidates passing. But the message that came out of the Park Street office of the board — scarred by the lawsuits of 2002 — had a “better safe than sorry” buzz about it.
The 2003 results had a lot of firsts going with it. First, there was no first boy or girl — in fact, no top-10 list at all. Instead, the board announced a list of 588 nameless candidates who scored a 100 in at least one subject. The board had learnt its lessons after being forced to make several changes in its 2002 merit list as reviews of results changed the original beyond recognition.
No marksheets were being distributed in schools along with the announcement of the results at the board’s office. Students, for the first time, found they had to wait for 24 hours more after the “announcement” of their results to know how they fared.
Here, too, the board had a reason. “We wanted to avoid the resultant commotion that goes with the weekday publication of results every year,” board president Dibyendu Bikash Hota said.
Third, the results were “declared” through two official state government sites — and the SMS route — before the marksheets arrived at schools.
Finally, the board took 52 days — in contrast to the 41-day time frame last year — to declare the results. This allowed the board to bring down the number of incomplete marksheets from last year’s 537 to an all-time low of 68, officials said.
Not all the changes, however, had such desired effect. The declaration of the magic number — the highest score of 788 out of a maximum 800 — led to a day of rumours with several students claiming that they had either got exactly that number or were “very close” to it.
From Malda to Coochbehar, from Midnapore to South 24-Parganas, there were too many claimants to 788. By the end of the day, Soumyajit De of Burdwan Town School emerged with 788. “I have got the number,” he told reporters after visiting the nearest cyber café.
If what De said was true, he was lucky. With thousands of Madhyamik examinees crowding cyber cafes, the sites were jammed. A similar experience befell those who tried the SMS route. Together, these resulted in an overwhelming majority not being able to know their results.