The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Safety first at Madhyamik

After a rap on the knuckles from the high court last year for its careless approach in conducting Madhyamik examinations, the Board of Secondary Education has decided to take several precautionary steps before the examination this year. More than 600,000 students will write Madhyamik 2003 next month.

Three of the major steps are: separate coloured answer-scripts for the blind and external candidates, a directive to paper-setters to go by the syllabi and an instruction to invigilators to sign on each answer-script submitted by candidates the number of sheets attached with it.

The Board’s decision to introduce separate colour schemes for the answer-scripts of regular, blind and external candidates is something of a first.

According to Board officials, the colour will help eliminate confusion in distributing scripts among head-examiners, examiners and tabulators.

The Board has also issued special directives to paper-setters to go by the syllabi while setting questions.

Board president Dibyendu Hota said on Tuesday: “ I will announce and explain the precautions we have taken at a press conference on February 20.”

The Board thought it prudent to be cautious in setting questions, since a number of textbooks had been found stuffed with subject matter outside the syllabus.

It has already sent a circular to its affiliated schools, urging teachers to stick to the syllabus, said a Board spokesman.

“In most cases, the book submitted to the Board office for approval is different from copies of the same text sold in the market.The textbooks in the market are heavier, more expensive and frightfully overburdened with non-syllabus details,” said general secretary of the West Bengal Headmasters’ Association Ashok Kumar Maity.

But the Board’s directive that the invigilators sign on each answer-script the number of loose sheets attached with it has created controversy. All Bengal Teachers’ Association general secretary Amal Banerjee explained that checking the sheets was a precaution to avoiding last year’s flurry of court cases.

But Maity said: “It is not feasible. If an invigilator is to count the loose sheets and write the number on the answer-script, the candidates will have to wait in a queue to submit their scripts and the exercise will take about two hours. This is no way of avoiding court cases.”

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