HS examinees revise their textbooks outside a south Calcutta school on Wednesday. Picture by Sanat Kr Sinha
The HS council at 1am on Wednesday allowed students without admit cards to write the exam that started nine hours later, opening the door to misuse and triggering last-minute confusion and scramble.The decision meant anyone registered with the council could appear for HS as long as the examinee’s headmaster appeared with him to vouch for his identity and eligibility.
The decision was made on the basis of instructions by school education minister Bratya Basu, said a senior council official.
Admit cards are issued only to students who clear the qualifying examination in school. “Now if a headmaster certifies a candidate who had failed the pre-board exam as having cleared it, he will be able to take the HS,” said a council official.
The bigger fear is that political leaders and students will pressure headmasters to certify examinees eligible for HS even if they are not, several teachers told Metro.
“Since this decision will become a precedent, ineligible students might demand to appear for HS in future. The pre-board exams will thus have no value,” said Jyotirmoy Mukherjee, a former council head.
The decision is ostensibly to help the hundreds of examinees who had missed the deadline for submitting filled-in examination forms. They queued up outside the council headquarters at Vidyasagar Bhavan in Salt Lake and at the regional offices of the council till late on Tuesday to collect admit cards. Admit card distribution continued till 3am but many still did not get their cards.
The issue of the last-minute admit card distribution, which Metro had reported on Wednesday, was raised in the Assembly by Opposition leader Surjya Kanta Mishra, who demanded a written statement from Basu.
The education minister said in the Assembly: “The decision to issue admit cards was taken considering the future of more than 1,000 students. In some cases the students were at fault and in some cases the schools were responsible. The students made a mistake by not filling in the form in time. Though they had cleared the tests, they became ineligible to appear in the exam. They are being allowed to sit for the exam by showing their registration number.”
“The council should have ensured that the eligible candidates got their admit cards well ahead of the examination,” said Mukherjee.
Council president Muktinath Chatterjee’s early-morning notice to the school heads asked them to endorse only candidates who had cleared the pre-board exam but, as schools pointed out, there was no way to ascertain that.
There was confusion at several centres over identification of examinees as registration certificates do not carry a photograph.
Some of the examinees without admit cards did not know where they would write their examination. Thirty-two students of Jogendranath Vidyapith of Bongaon in North 24-Parganas, who were told that their exam centre was Kobi Kesablal Vidyapeeth, learnt there that they would have to go to Bongaon High School, about 1km away.
More than 500 HS examinees with Oriya as first language were allegedly given question papers based on the old syllabus on Wednesday.
“My Class XI final exam question paper was based on the new syllabus approved by the HS council in 2011. But the question paper given to me today was based on the syllabus before that. I had to submit a blank paper,” said a student of a Kharagpur school.
A student of Shibnath High School in Khardah said the same. “I alerted the invigilators but they said nothing could be done,” said the student.
Muktinath Chatterjee, the president of the HS council, said: “The allegations are baseless and the council is in no way responsible.”
Pabitra Mohan Jena, member of the council-constituted committee that framed the new syllabus, said the students were given questions based on the wrong syllabus.
Jena added that he had contacted the council’s deputy secretary (examination), Malay Ray, on Wednesday afternoon.
“He kept telling me that there was no change of syllabus since 2006. I sent him proof of the change in the syllabus but the council did not offer any solution,” said Jena.
Ray refused to comment on the matter.