Over 700,000 students across the state head for the examination centres on Monday, with around 80 per cent appearing for an exam (Madhyamik 2003) that will itself be put to the most stringent test.
Madhyamik is conducted by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education. Nearly 600,000 students will write the test, but it may well be the examiner (the Board) that will be under the scanner. Calcutta High Court has issued strictures against it for its alleged inability to do justice to its evaluation process.
The remaining examinees appear for the Class X and XII exams, conducted by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (ICSE) and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
The Board seems to be aware of its predicament. Head-examiners met on Sunday and recapitulated the measures meant to pre-empt a rerun of last year’s embarrassing errors.
Officers said every link in the chain was scrutinised at Sunday’s meeting. To become a head-examiner, the teacher concerned has to have five years of experience of teaching the relevant subject and must have studied the subject either at the under-graduate or the post-graduate level.
“The rules were always there, but were never implemented strictly,” a senior Board officer admitted. “This year, however, we are going to follow the rulebook,” he added.
Exactly 591,695 students will appear for this year’s Madhyamik examination — much more than any other school-leaving exam — and 899 centres will be used. The exams begin every day at noon and end at 3 pm. They continue till March 13.
Calcutta will send a major chunk of the examinees set to appear for the ICSE and Indian School Certificate (ISC) exams (for Class X and Class XII students, respectively) and the CBSE-conducted tests for corresponding batches. “All arrangements are ready for a smooth coming-off of the ICSE and ISC exams,” said deputy secretary and head of the eastern zone office of the Delhi-based Council for the ISC exams G. Arathoon. There are nearly 200 schools in the state — the bulk of which are in the city — where the two exams will be held.
The state transport department will ply special buses for the examinees.