Two shadows — one cast by Calcutta High Court and the other by the bungling during the announcement of Madhyamik 2003 results — fell over the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary (HS) Education’s annual exercise on Friday. Play safe, rather than be sorry, was the message within the Council.
Several safeguards were taken to ensure that the Council did not find itself dragged to court by a marks mess. Yet, before Day One was done, there was at least one clear cry of protest.
Aparajita Mandal, from South 24-Parganas, scored 791 in HS 2003, but in one of the Bengali papers, her tally was zero. Aparajita has gained admission to Jadavpur University’s computer science department after sailing through the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE). Her teachers lost no time in approaching the Council, crying foul over her Bengali marks and demanding action. Some result rumblings could also be heard from other parts of Bengal and there is little to suggest that it will not grow louder over the coming days.
For the record, the percentage of success dropped marginally below the HS 2002 mark (65.32 per cent) and stood at 64.65 per cent this year. But there were many more first-divisions this year (38,566), up from 35,154 in 2002. If the results themselves were only a little different from last year’s, there were changes galore in the run-up to the announcement of marks.
As with Madhyamik, HS has done away with the merit-list altogether. There was information given out, “unofficially”, of some high-scoring students — Arka Majumdar from Ramakrishna Mission, Narendrapur, leading the boys with 977 and Debaleena Basu of Rahara Bhabanath Institution, the girls, with 940.
A high court stricture, restricting the Council from awarding ‘grace marks’ to examinees without issuing public notifications to the effect, led Council secretary Dibyendu Chakraborty to state: “We were not required to award grace marks this time.”
The Council also chose to be extra-cautious while examining the answer-scripts, taking two weeks more than last year to announce the results. All examiners were asked to scrutinise the marksheets this time, which explained the “little delay”.
The use of the Internet, too, was a lesson learnt from the Madhyamik 2003 logjam. The results were posted a few hours after they were announced at the Council’s Salt Lake office.
By then, most schools had got their marksheets. Also, there were six sites — as opposed to the Madhyamik two — for HS examinees.