The higher secondary council is set to issue a circular iterating that merit should be the sole criterion for promoting students to a higher class, putting the onus on schools to tackle any unrest arising from a change in policy.
The council had been accused of trying to interfere in the internal affairs of a Santoshpur school last December after a 22-hour siege by students over results of the HS qualifying test.
The management of Rishi Aurobindo Balika Vidyapeeth had refused to allow those failing the test to sit for the HS examination, triggering a crisis that led the council to order a retest. The directive was withdrawn after howls of protest from school administrators, who said the council’s primary duty was to frame the curriculum and hold examinations.
Several other schools across the state were rocked by unrest over examination results.
“Merit should be the only criterion for promotion. But if schools want to be lenient, it is their sole responsibility to take a decision. At the same time, we want to remind the schools that they will have to tackle any student unrest arising out of an internal decision,” said a senior official of the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education.
The proposed circular is an extension of the state government’s announcement that only deserving students should be promoted to the next class.
“If there is a crisis in any school and the institution needs the council’s guidance, we will look into the matter. But in that case the school would have to approach us formally,” council president Mahua Das said.
At Santoshpur’s Rishi Aurobindo Balika Vidyapeeth, students who had failed the HS qualifying test had held headmistress Sreemati Ghosh and 13 other teachers hostage for 22 hours from the afternoon of December 17, demanding that they be declared passed.
The school called up the council that night to seek help in ending the unrest. A team of council officials reached the school almost immediately but its order to hold a fresh exam stirred up a storm.
“We will not accept any request from the schools to intervene in their internal problems if they give a phone call at the last moment after trouble has erupted on the campus,” a source in the council said.
The spate of exam-related unrest in schools after the Santoshpur incident had prompted governor M.K. Narayanan to call the then council president, Muktinath Chatterjee, to Raj Bhavan and seek a clarification from him on the council’s role.
He asked Chatterjee to firmly deal with illegitimate demands.
The next HS qualifying exam is in January. The Class XI annual exam is slated for March. More than 16 lakh students will write the two exams in 2014.