The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Digvijay faces exam heat

Bhopal, June 5: In Digvijay Singh’s Madhya Pradesh, less than 25 per cent of students passed the high school examination in a regime that has been showcasing rise in literacy levels as its main achievement.

Out of the 6,00,117 students who appeared for Class X examinations, only 1,43,552 passed — a mere 23.9 per cent.

While more than 95,000 students have been asked to appear again in supplementary examination, parents want “general promotion” for 4,56,565 students who failed to clear the exams.

Results of the Madhya Pradesh Board of Secondary Education have rattled everyone in the election-bound state and the outcome has taken a distinct political colour.

In the BJP’s scheme of things, the entire blame should go to Digvijay for his inability to supply power. As the party’s chief ministerial aspirant Uma Bharti alleged: “Our children failed because they failed to study during the night due to huge power cuts. There was acute water shortage, so the young students, instead of studying, had to travel long distances to fetch water for home chores.”

The chief minister disagrees, wondering how two to four hours of mandatory power cuts could lead to such poor results when the students had a “whole day” to study.

Others blamed it on the World Cup matches in March when Saurav Ganguly’s team kept students glued to the television till it lost to Australia in the finals.

Jittery officials give a different reason. The secondary education board’s secretary, Depali Rastogi, said strict measures to control copying had showed “positive results”.

But the figures belied her claim. According to board records, there were only 3,741 cases of copying registered this year as against 7,264 last year. Could that lead to 4,56,565 students failing the exams' She had no reply.

Senior officials close to Digvijay, while admitting the “lapse”, claimed that the Congress government in its keenness to raise basic literacy levels, perhaps failed to keep track of the board’s educational standards.

“We seem to be obsessed with innovative schemes like Rajiv Gandhi Mission of Basic Literacy, Education Guarantee Scheme that has spread literacy. But in the process, our focus shifted from secondary school standards,” a senior official said.

Officials point out that power cuts had little to do with the examination results as Rajmohini — the girl who secured 472 out of 500 — hails from Panna, an extremely backward district. In fact, most students in the merit list are not from big cities like Bhopal, Indore, Gwalior and Jabalpur.

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