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English anguish in HS numbers
- Poor language scores pull down pass percentage

Calcutta, July 27: English proved to be the undoing of nearly 1.73 lakh boys and girls who failed to clear the 2004 Higher Secondary examinations, reflecting a 62.60 per cent success rate, down from last year’s 64.65 per cent.

Manas Karmakar, a student of Bankura’s Kamalpur Netaji School, appeared to have secured the first position among 387,329 candidates with 978 out of a total of 1000 marks, followed by Pronob Chattopadhyay (967) of Narendrapur Ramakrishna Mission and Arijit Khan (963) of Arambag Boys’ School in Hooghly.

“It will not be proper for us to say who the rank holders are because we have done away with the merit list in accordance with a government policy,” said Dibyendu Chakraborty, secretary of the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education, announcing the results.

“But we understand students like Karmakar, Chattopadhyay and Khan, who are from rural districts, have done exceedingly well.”

Although the merit list has been done away with, for the first time the council revealed a district-wise break-up of the results where Calcutta shows a far higher success rate than the average.

A quick analysis of the results revealed poor English scores, especially of students of Bengali-medium schools, to be the reason for the lowest pass percentage in four years.

“We are yet to draw a definitive conclusion about English. An exercise will soon be initiated to ascertain the actual cause of decline in the 2004 pass percentage,” Chakraborty said.

Last year, about 32 per cent had flunked the exam, thanks to English.

It is unlikely the government will admit that the poor performance is in any way related to its decision to banish English from schools till Class VI, a policy it started correcting only recently.

The number of students passing out in the first division, at 38,020, was also marginally lower than last year’s 38,566. But more (5700) scored star marks — 75 per cent and above — than in 2003.

Reflecting a new government policy that seeks to bring schedules in line with those followed nationally, the council announced the dates of next year’s exams, which will be held from March 22 instead of April. Similarly, the Madhyamik exams will be advanced, starting probably from February 22 instead of March.

Education officials said the dates of Madhyamik and HS exams have been brought forward to enable the universities to hold BA, BSc and B.Com Part II examinations from April 15.

The decision to advance the graduate examinations, which usually begin at the end of April, was taken to allow students to join post-graduate courses in other states or abroad.

Under the revised schedule, the universities will have to start the exams latest by April 15 and publish the results by June 30.

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