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Scripts missing but marks given

An unexplained method used by the secondary education board to “calculate” the physical science scores of 41 Madhyamik candidates whose answer scripts were lost before evaluation has left students, parents and teachers doubting the fairness of the procedure.

Board officials would only say that the scores were calculated on the basis of the students’ performance in the other subjects, including first language, second language, life science, mathematics, history and geography.

“All 41 students received the marks they deserved. We took all possible steps to ensure justice was done,” board secretary Swapan Sarkar said.

The 41 answer scripts went missing after Krishnalal Talukdar, the retired teacher who was to check them, handed the packets to an unidentified youth who had offered to carry them for him as he was walking down Surya Sen Street on March 5.

Talukdar, a resident of Taherpur, in Nadia, had collected the scripts from head examiner Kazi Sofi Ahmed’s house in Howrah and was headed for Sealdah station when the incident occurred.

He told police that the youth claimed to be one of his former students and that he had no reason to suspect he was lying.

The youth melted into the crowd before the retired teacher realised what he was up to. The police are still clueless about his identity.

Talukdar was not the only one to lose the answer scripts given to him for evaluation. There were reports of examiners losing answer scripts in Kidderpore and Haripal, in Hooghly district, but no official complaint was filed.

Senior teachers said the board should have explained the procedure for calculation of the marks awarded to the 41 students whose physical science answer scripts were lost and never found.

“Incidents of answer scripts being misplaced or lost by examiners are increasing. The board should have a clear policy on how to compensate candidates whose answer scripts are lost before evaluation,” a teacher in a College Street school said.

Another teacher wondered whether any hypothetical calculation could be deemed fair, just as there is always a doubt about fairness when the Duckworth-Lewis method comes into play after an interruption in a limited-overs cricket match.

“The least that the board can do is maintain transparency so that students and guardians have an idea about the method used to compensate students whose answer scripts are lost,” he said.

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