Karnataka polls must not disrupt exams

Karnataka polls must not disrupt exams

Karnataka is expected to go to polls in April or early May. Given the importance of elections in a democracy, it is but natural that they are given high priority when they become due, normally once in five years. The Election Commission (EC) has sounded out state authorities on the need for some advance thinking on possible dates for polling. Karnataka is a mid-sized state, being the seventh largest in terms of size and ninth in terms of population, so holding elections calls for substantial planning and preparation well in advance. The EC usually takes into consideration the expected weather, major festivals of different communities, various examinations that students have to face and such other factors before zeroing in on the poll schedule. The state government and its senior functionaries, besides major political parties, are consulted.

The months of March, April and May are also when several crucial examinations, which determine the future of lakhs of students, are held. Since the Assembly elections come bang in the middle of this period, it calls for some juggling of the dates. It is somewhat disturbing to hear that the EC has informally asked the state education department to consider concluding all major examinations before the end of March. There is talk of the SSLC and the PUC II examinations being advanced and the entire series of examinations being squeezed into fewer days to accommodate the EC's 'request.' The Commissioner, Public Instruction, however, maintains that whether the exams are to be advanced or not can be decided only after receiving an official communication from the EC.

It is imperative that both the EC and the state authorities ensure that students are not pressured on account of elections. Polling, after all, is completed in one or two days and it is unfair and unjust to pressure schools and colleges to rush through the syllabi and examinations of SSLC and PUC II students, whose future depends on these public exams. There should not be any compromise on the minimum gap between various papers, as it could have a bearing on their results. In a similar situation in 2013, before the last elections, the Public Instruction department took the initiative to prepare the examination schedule in advance and sent it to the EC. The EC was requested to decide on polling dates suitably. Consequently, all the major exams were concluded by March-end, with sufficient gap between each subject examination. It was a one-day polling on May 5 and the new government was in place by May 13, 2013. There is no reason why it cannot be done as smoothly this time, too.  

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