The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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English channel to HS merit list

The West Bengal Council for Higher Secondary Education, bowing under pressure from leading English-medium schools in Calcutta, has drawn up plans for a revamp of the evaluation system. The aim, it is learnt, is the bridging of the city-district divide on the merit list and silencing critics of the “faulty” system presently in place.

The first step, say officials, will be identifying examiners from English-medium schools and entrusting them with the task of checking answer-scripts written in English. This system of evaluation should be introduced from the academic session beginning 2004.

The Council has planned the revamp to counter the criticism about the present marking system, which schools like South Point argue is largely responsible for city-based students not finding a place in the HS toppers’ list, which is dominated by students from the district schools.

“We have taken serious note of the schools’ demand that answer-scripts written in English be examined by teachers of English-medium schools,” Council official D. Munshi said. “We will be starting the exercise in 2003 itself but, because of logistical reasons, it cannot be extended to every English-medium student before 2004,” he added.

Officials said they would have liked to start the new evaluation system from the Higher Secondary (HS) examination in 2003 itself, but there is too little time left to make the alternative arrangements necessary for the exclusive assessment of English scripts by teachers from English-medium schools.

Authorities of several English-medium schools — the most prominent among them being South Point — approached the Council demanding a change in the system of evaluation that saw answer-scripts penned in English being corrected by teachers from vernacular schools.

Murmurs about district schools being favoured for “political considerations” have grown louder, especially with the HS 2002 merit list blanking out city students. Council officials, terming this trend “disturbing”, said the present move would muzzle allegations of “political bias”. from the city's “elite” schools.

The Council will use the 2003 examination to get a “rough idea” of the number of students who answer in English.

“It is essential to know the volume of answer-scripts before we embark on this mission, as that will help us know the number of examiners and head-examiners we need for the English-language papers,” an official explained.

The Council, it is learnt, may adopt a similar policy for answer-scripts in Hindi, Urdu and Nepalese — the three other languages besides Bengali and English that HS examinees are allowed to pen their answers in.

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