When it comes to examitions and careers of school students, education planners in the State can take strange decisions. The assembly elections next year may already be giving sleepless nights to many politicians, but this time a large number of school examinees are set to burn the midnight oil earlier than them. Lakhs of students taking the High School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) and Higher Secondary (HS) examitions have been left worried, along with their guardians and teachers, thanks to a quixotic announcement made on Teachers’ Day by Education minister Sarat Barkataky. He intends to bring forward these two examitions by about a couple of months from February-March next to December-January, ostensibly to leave the coast clear for holding assembly elections. The Election Commission is yet to make an announcement about the dates of Assam elections 2016 and how it intends to go about the process, but the good minister wants to keep the Education department two steps ahead. He has however neglected to factor in the havoc floods this year have wreaked upon many schools in the State. Even before the deluge started, classroom teaching of class X and class XII courses in most schools were barely half way through. The way HSLC and HS syllabi are paced in our secondary and higher secondary schools year after year, it is common knowledge that ‘courses’ are rarely completed. With many schools closed down for days on end due to floods this year, teachers will have a herculean time making up for time lost. Even if they rush through the lessons now, can students digest these well enough if the time available is shortened by two months?
The test (pre-board) examitions are normally held in December, after which the form filling-up process begins for examinees cleared to sit for the fil examitions. If the test examitions are also sought to be brought forward, it may clash with the festive season holidays which this year begin in the third week of October. So the entire syllabi for the HSLC and HS examitions must be completed before the Puja holidays begin, which leaves practically a month from now for harried teachers. This apart, the Board of Secondary Education (SEBA) and Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (AHSEC) need time to review the preparedness of examition centres, the number of examinees, the infrastructure and associated factors. Examinees have to be issued admit cards, question papers and answer scrutiny guidelines have to be filised. Does the Education minister honestly think all these processes can be fast-forwarded, considering the creaking infrastructures of the SEBA and the AHSEC? Even in the best of times, these crucial public examitions are dogged by anomalies galore. HSLC answer scripts stored in ‘strong rooms’ are devoured by cows, evaluation guidelines are changed drastically without properly training up evaluators, results are declared sans mark-sheets. The All Assam Students Union (AASU) has now taken up the matter of the Education minister’s announcement with the SEBA and HS authorities. It transpires that both authorities are in the dark, and in no position to shorten the nearly four-month long examition processes. Instead of putting HSLC and HS examinees along with their examition authorities in utter befuddlement, the Education minister would do well to focus more upon how to make these two examitions ‘fool-proof’ next year. Playing ducks and drakes with the careers of such tender-aged students is an irresponsibility that can no longer be tolerated.