KOCHI: A multitude of problems is plaguing the state’s higher secondary education. One of them is the safekeeping of question papers for the annual Plus-II examinations. Principals of higher secondary schools have repeatedly demanded that the question papers for these examinations be provided with the same level of security as SSLC question papers.
The severity of the situation was highlighted when question papers for the Plus-II Save-A-Year examinations were stolen from a school in Malappuram. Consequently, the principal and related officials faced heavy penalties.
“The Education Department directed them to pay around Rs 38 lakh to cover the expenses accrued for printing a new set of question papers,” said N Sakkeer Alias Sainuddheen, state president, Higher Secondary School Principals’ Association of Kerala (HSPAK).
Such a situation could be avoided if the Plus-II question papers are stored in the treasury just like SSLC papers, he added. “Taking into cognisance the seriousness of the issue, more than 1,000 higher secondary school principals mailed individual representations highlighting the problem to the Education Department, the Chief Secretary and Education Minister,” he said.
According to Martin T G, principal of a school in Ernakulam district, as per the present arrangement, the question papers need to be kept in the school and have to be guarded by the lab assistant in a room with CCTV coverage.
“Now here comes the problem. These lab assistants perform multiple duties. They act as assistants to the principal and do all the work done by a grade IV staff of the high school. Another problem is that though the lab assistant posts are filled in the aided schools, the same can’t be said about the government schools,” said Martin. In such situations, the principal has to spend the night guarding the question papers, he added.
A viral picture depicted a principal lying on the floor on a newspaper in front of the cupboard where the question papers were kept, exemplifying the severity of the situation.” Another issue is that since most of the lab assistants are women, they have been exempt from the duty of guarding the papers,” said Sakkeer.
A principal of a government school under the condition of anonymity said, “There was a time when the papers were kept in the Block Resource Centre’s (BRC). However, that practice got changed most probably due to the protests by the BRC staffers. Why is the education department not taking the issue seriously?”
It should be noted that the marks obtained by the Plus-II student are taken into consideration when allotting seats after the engineering and NEET exams! In this context, many stakeholders believe that the Plus-II examination carries more weight and relevance than the SSLC examination.