In a bid to put to fears to rest regarding postponement of Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examination scheduled for February 21 because several unions called for Bharat Bandh on that day, the Maharashtra State Board Secondary and Higher Secondary confirmed that no such thing will happen.
Contrary to rumours that there could be a change in the timetable as a result of the strike, the state board clarified that no matter what, the HSC board exams will commence and go as per the schedule. The state has 12,94,363 students, both first-timers and repeaters appearing for their HSC board exams, including 3,22,193 students from Mumbai.
Meanwhile, according to a board official in Pune, the School Management Association (SMA) that had decided not to allow board examinations on their schools premises, excluding Mumbai schools, have called off the strike. These schools will now allow their premises to be used as examination centres. S B Gaikwad, in charge secretary, State Board Secondary and Higher Secondary, Mumbai Division, said that the bandh call would not affect the examination in any way.
Kapil Patil, president of NGO Shikshak Bharti, said, “The protest called by SMA has been called off, and state-run schools will now allow board exams to be conducted on their school premises.”
The Maharashtra Federation of Junior College Teachers’ Organisations (MFJCTO) has decided that if the concerned ministers give assurance that their demands will be met, but does not keep the promise before February 24, then they would boycott assessment of HSC board papers that come in from the second or third day after exam starts.
The teachers have been demanding payment of salary arrears, as per the fifth pay commission recommendations applicable from 1996. The teachers, however, came under its ambit in 2000. Besides, the association has demanded that vacant teacher posts be filled immediately. They have also asked the state to continue with the common entrance test for engineering and not include the national test.
While a number of students are worried about how to reach their respective examination centres, the School Bus Owners Association plans to provide 60 buses to western, central and north areas for students. Anil Garg, chairman, school bus owners association, Mumbai, said, “Students will have to come to the nearest railway station if they want a pick up and drop to their respective exam centres. We will put banners on buses so students can identify which vehicles they can board. Students would need to show their hall tickets while boarding the buses.”