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regular-article-logo Monday, 22 July 2024

Bengal govt seeks public opinion on whether and how to conduct Madhyamik and HS

An official of the department said if one is not in favour of the exams, he or she has to suggest what the method and criteria for evaluation should be

Subhankar Chowdhury Calcutta Published 07.06.21, 01:04 AM
A six-member expert committee the government had formed handed in its report to the school education department on Saturday, ruling out on-campus or online exams and recommending pen-and-paper exams written from home.

A six-member expert committee the government had formed handed in its report to the school education department on Saturday, ruling out on-campus or online exams and recommending pen-and-paper exams written from home. File picture

The Bengal government has sought opinion from parents, students and the public in general on whether and how the Madhyamik and higher secondary examinations should be conducted this year.

A six-member expert committee the government had formed handed in its report to the school education department on Saturday, ruling out on-campus or online exams and recommending pen-and-paper exams written from home.

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But an official of the department said that along with the views of the experts, chief minister Mamata Banerjee wanted to know the common people’s mind before taking a decision.

Mamata tweeted on Sunday afternoon: “Our children’s future is my greatest priority. To this regard we have formed an expert committee to decide over holding Class 10th and 12th board exams in 2021.”

She added: “We are also inviting views and opinion from parents, general public, sector experts, civil society and students. I request each one of you to send us your feedback on the issue on following addresses by June 7th 2pm (three email addresses are mentioned)…. Your suggestions will be valuable to us.”

A notice signed by Manish Jain, principal secretary to the school education department, said the public needed to mail their views to pbssm.spo@gmail.com; commissionerschooleducation@gmail.com or wbssed@gmail.com.

Anyone who wants the exams conducted must state the mode they favour.

“If one is not in favour of the exams, he or she has to suggest what the method and criteria for evaluation should be,” an official of the department said.

The Bengal boards’ higher secondary exams are currently scheduled to start in the last week of July and the secondary exams in the second week of August, after both were postponed from June.

But last week’s planned announcements of the detailed exam schedules were put on hold after the CBSE and the ISC board cancelled their Class XII exams citing the pandemic.

Asked why feedback was being sought from parents and students despite an expert panel having given its recommendations, a school department official said the government wanted to consider every shade of opinion.

“Since the issue is very sensitive and involves the future of 21 lakh secondary and higher secondary students, we are collecting as much opinion as we can. More opinions means a wider pool of options,” the official said.

He added that feedback from the public would also help the government decide on the acceptability of the model proposed by the experts.

“The committee has proposed sending printed questions physically to the homes of the examinees and bringing back the written answers.” The answer sheets are to be stored at the schools for the teachers to evaluate them,” he said.

The official said: “We hope that while sending their feedback, the students and guardians would give their views on the feasibility of the proposal.”

Some school education department officials said that getting the questions delivered to every student’s home and bringing the answers back would be difficult amid the pandemic and the coastal devastation caused by Cyclone Yaas.

“The committee has proposed home assignments (exams) as (online) exams cannot be held because of the digital divide handicapping underprivileged students,” an official said.

“But we need to know how far the committee’s proposal is acceptable to the students, guardians and the general public. If they can suggest an alterative model, that could be explored as well.”

Sources in the school education department said the state government wanted wider consultations before arriving at any decision also because the Supreme Court was considering the same issue for the national boards.

The apex court had on Thursday set a two-week deadline for the Centre to come up with “well-defined objective criteria” for the assessment of Class XII students of the CBSE and the ICSE council.

The Bengal expert committee too has advised the school education department to note what the Supreme Court says at its next hearing on June 17 on the method of assessing CBSE and ISC council students.

“If there is overwhelming public feedback saying the state government should wait till the apex court takes a call, that opinion would be taken into consideration as well,” an official said.

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