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CM’s marks plea music to students

The chief minister has asked teachers at schools affiliated to the Bengal boards to award marks liberally so that students are on a par with those from other boards.

Ektu dil khuley number din (be liberal with marks),” Mamata Banerjee appealed to teachers at a programme on Thursday to felicitate those who have done well in Madhyamik and the Higher Secondary exams.

“The education minister as well as senior officials of the school education department are here. I request you to discuss the issue (of marking) among yourselves. Some of our teachers are very miserly while giving marks. Even if students write (well), they do not give them good marks.”

The chief minister had barely finished when the students broke into a thunderous applause.

“Please see to it that our students can compete at the national and international levels. Our students are getting good marks now but they stop at 96 or 97, while students from other boards score 100 out of 100. Nowadays, even one or two marks matter a lot. In an objective test, if students give right answers they should get full marks,” the chief minister said.

She, however, made it clear that she was only offering a suggestion, which was not binding on the education department.

Figures reveal the disparity between the marking pattern of the state boards and that of the ICSE or CBSE authorities. Only 710 of the 7,77,058 students who wrote the HS this year secured above 90 per cent marks. It translates to a meagre .091 per cent.

On the other hand, more than 20 per cent students secured above 90 per cent in ISC. Last year barely 0.05 per cent students had scored over 90 per cent in HS, against around 25 per cent in the ISC and CBSE Class XII exams.

The HS council and the Madhyamik board have been trying over the past few years to reduce subjectivity in the evaluation of answer scripts to ensure their students score as high as those passing out of ISC/ICSE or CBSE schools.

A recent random check of answer scripts by the HS council revealed that some examiners had not awarded full marks for correct answers to objective or short answer-type questions.

Some examiners had awarded low marks in history to students who wrote correct but brief answers. “The examiners believed that long answers deserved more marks that such ‘to the point’ answers,” said a council official.

The council later held a workshop with the examiners in an attempt to change their mindset.

Some teachers, however, held a contrary view. A teacher of a reputable Calcutta college said all boards have their own teaching and marking methodology. “The HS council follows a methodology that requires students to study all subjects in depth to score high marks. Each board should be allowed to have a unique approach to evaluation,” the teacher said.

At Tuesday’s Town Hall programme, the students had been awarded prizes — a laptop, a watch and a packet of sweets — by the time Mamata turned up. She spoke to the students, going up to each of them, for over an hour.

The students took the chief minister’s autograph and posed with her for pictures. Some handed over their cell phones to cops, requesting them to click their pictures with Mamata.

Altogether 54 students who have passed Madhyamik and 28 who have passed the HS were felicitated. “Eighty per cent of the students want to read physics or chemistry. Some want to study engineering, while some others prefer medicine. One student wants to be an IAS officer. No one wants to study arts,” Mamata said later.