Prevent exam, result goof-ups

“Yet another intermediate student committed suicide by setting  himself ablaze at Kondranipalle village of Narayanipet district on Saturday, taking the death toll to 20 since the announcement of  results on April 20.”

It is a heart-wrenching newspaper report on the spate of suicides in Telangana due to the avoidable mess created by the goof up of the results where about three lakh students  were “failed” out of 10 lakh who took the exams.

The fact that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken suo motu cognisance of media reports on the large scale discrepancies in the results of the intermediate exams conducted by the Board of Intermediate Examinations (BIE) and the large number of students who are reportedly failed, resorting to the extreme step of taking away their own lives, is only indicative of the enormity of the situation caused by the irresponsible and unprofessional way in which the intermediate examination papers were valued and marks awarded by the BIE.

The goof up has triggered  an unprecedented furore in  the entire state when students and parents have been staging protests and dharnas. The BIE office was under seize by the  protestors for several days.

The Inter students who got 98% in most of the subjects are failed in one/two subjects with zero percent, giving credence to the theory that it is unthinkable for such bright students to score zero in few subjects.

There are reports which say that thousands of students have failed to get even pass marks which the parents vouchsafe is next to impossible for their wards, given their consistent past record of performance and the intensity with which they have prepared for the exams.

It is also unfortunate that the apathy on the part of the government and the BIE have driven the aggrieved students and the parents to approach the Telangana High Court.

The Intermediate class though, is not a terminating class, the performance in its exam becomes an important component because, per se it is the gateway to every other professional course.

For competing at EAMCET, NEET, JEE and other entrance examinations both at state and at national levels, the credits the students obtain at Inter is crucial.

Time is also running out as such entrance examinations are all lined up in the coming weeks. The parents are a worried lot as  the future of their wards is at stake due to the prevailing uncertainty of the Inter results.

The mess  about the results is only the tip of the iceberg and  the malady seems deep-rooted and lies in the very manner the entire system is made to run. In Telangana, Intermediate  education is carried on two parallel streams of institutions, one by the state government and the other by private corporate bodies.

The government junior  colleges are never in comparison with the corporate colleges.  These corporate colleges follow a 12 to 14 hours study regime and besides Intermediate subjects, also train  the students to clear the entrance examinations to professional courses.

These colleges collect a huge fee and  students are made to live in hostels to focus on the studies. The government-run colleges on the other hand, with no proper infrastructural facilities and with no regular staff members, are mostly run with “contract lecturers”.

These lecturers with no proper salary, with no  job security and with no retirement benefits are treated on par with daily labourers.

It is an irony that when the question of evaluation of the answer scripts comes up, it is these frustrated group which is entrusted with such an onerous task of evaluation by the BIE, and not the lecturers in the corporate colleges.

War of nerves

Thus there is a war of nerves between the government lecturers and the  faculty in private corporate colleges. The staff in corporate colleges who train the students for  the Inter as well as for the further entrance tests are not eligible to evaluate the answer scripts for, they are not in the pay rolls of the government.

The contract lecturers whom the BTE hires for evaluation work are not full time regular employees of the government. The present bungling in the results is mainly due this dichotomy of  banning efficiency and pinning on irresponsible part time personnel with no commitment.

In view of the impasse created on account of the prevailing uncertainty about the Inter results and the impending re-verification process, the Telangana State Council of Higher Education (TSCHE) as well as other bodies will do well by coming to the rescue of the students and parents by rescheduling their entrance examinations so that the unfortunate Inter students will not be made to lose one precious year.

The Telangana Inter results and the way the state and the BIE have made it a mess playing with the lives of lakhs of students should also be lesson for other states to be more cautious in matters of exams, particularly the results of the examinations.

(The writer is a retired professor of University of Hyderabad)

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