BENGALURU: The biggest test for the State Government began on Thursday with the commencement of the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) examination across the state, riding on the ministers’ assurances that it will be conducted safely without the threat of Covid-19 infection spreading among the children. A total of 7,71,878 of the total 7,85,140 registered students wrote the first paper at 2,879 exam centres across Karnataka, with 13,212 remaining absent for various reasons.
However, despite assurances, anxieties persisted among students and parents, which were not altogether unjustified from the scenes across exam centres. Students started queuing up outside their respective exam centres from 7.30 am onwards maintaining social distancing, undergoing thermal screening and sanitising themselves. The first threehour second language paper (English/Kannada) commenced at 10.30 am. But after the exam, several parents gathered around even as students, who were meeting each other after almost two months, started mingling and greeting each other and exchanging notes on how the paper went for them.
The Department of Public Instruction had, in a note, appealed to parents to maintain social distancing at the exam centre. Ironically, the parents’ anxiety, which had prompted their call to cancel the examination, brought them together, throwing caution to the wind. Several parents waited an hour prior to the completion of the exam at St Joseph’s Indian High School in the city, crowding around and ignoring social distancing norms.
Although some students and parents said they were happy with the measures taken on the premises, others weren’t and insisted that Primary and Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar should postpone the exams. A parent said, “I request the minister to postpone the exams, considering the current situation and pressure on students.”
Some students pointed out to the lack of safety measures inside exam centres. One of the students told TNIE after the exam, “The students and teachers were wearing masks with their noses exposed. The one-metre distance norm too was not followed as I could touch the nearby student’s table. This is putting us at risk.” The SSLC board exams are scheduled to be held till July 4, and the Education Department does not seem inclined to postponing them any further, specially after they were put off when the pandemic broke out. This despite the Supreme Court allowing the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) decision to cancel all pending examinations.
Minister Suresh Kumar said, “The same Supreme Court that gave CBSE the notice, went through our SOP (standard operating procedures) an hour prior to that and gave us a green signal (to hold the exams).” Primary and Secondary Education Minister Suresh Kumar expressed confidence that the exams will be held smoothly and safely.
“Students exuded a sense of relief, both before the exam when I spoke to them, and after. They just want to complete their examinations,” he told mediapersons in a briefing on Thursday. Kumar said the exam went off smoothly in all 2,879 centres across the state. Of a total 7,85,140 candidates for the first paper, 98.3 per cent were in attendance. Those absent on justifiable grounds will be allowed to write the exam later, he said.
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