HSC exams: Students, parents unaware of provision for older writers

On day one of the HSC exam yesterday, it came to the fore that not many, including college authorities, were aware about this new provision introduced by the state board earlier this month

The Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exam commenced yesterday with the English language paper. Even though it is the first year of the new activity-based pattern of question papers, the students neither found it too tough nor lengthy. Moreover, starting this year, special students will be allowed to use older writers. However, it came to the fore that not many were aware about this new provision.

Minutes before appearing for the first HSC paper, students revise what ever they can outside an examination centre in Khar yesterday. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Minutes before appearing for the first HSC paper, students revise what ever they can outside an examination centre in Khar yesterday. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar 

Earlier this month, the state issued new guidelines regarding facilities to be provided for special students. One of them allows using an older writer in case a special student is unable to find a younger writer or the situation demands for an older writer.

Principal speak
Like students and parents, even college authorities seemed to be clueless about the new provision made for special students. Commenting on the issue, principal of a Thane-based junior college said, "Colleges aren’t completely unaware of the new guidelines. It is better that parents find younger writers or else everyone will start seeking approvals for older writers. And if something goes wrong or leads to a malpractice, then the axe will fall on the principals as we have been entrusted with the responsibility of approving older writers."

Official speak
Dattatray Jagtap, chairperson, State board (Mumbai division), said, "There are very few applications from students seeking approval for older writers — just one for the HSC exam till date.

However, it could be due to the recent issuance of new guidelines about which not many are aware. We’ll receive more applications for the SSC exam. But this doesn’t mean that everyone will be allowed to use an older writer. The applicant will have to furnish a strong reason for it."

The bad apple
On day one of the exam, a single case of dummy candidate was reported from an examination centre in Bhiwandi.
Confirming the incident, Jagtap said, “A case of dummy candidate was reported from an exam centre in
Bhiwandui, following which the centre authorities were asked to lodge a police complaint. However, further details are awaited as the case to us at the end of the day.”  

Beating all odds
Koparkhairane resident Hrishikesh Haligouda, affected by rickets since birth, travelled to his examination centre in Vashi in his father’s arms. Hrishikesh, an Arts student, said, "English is my favourite subject. I am worried about other papers, but not much."

Hrishikesh Haligouda with his father Ganapati and writer
Hrishikesh Haligouda with his father Ganapati and writer

Hrishikesh had scored 70 per cent in the SSC and is hoping to score better in the HSC. He, however, is yet to decide on the future course of his higher education. Speaking to mid-day, Hrishikesh’s father Ganapati said, "Our aim is to help him get good education, which makes him eligible for a government job. This will help him become independent. Hrishikesh is good at studies. We’ll soon chalk out a career plan, considering his physical condition."

Commenting on his son’s condition, Ganapati said Hrishikesh’s bones have gone soft due to rickets — bone disorder that occurs due to deficiency of vitamin D. "His bones haven’t grown as per his age. His hands, fingers and legs have remained small. This is why he cannot write on his own. He has been appearing for examinations with the help of writers," Ganapati said, adding, "He used to wake up at 6 am everyday and study for 3 to 4 hours. He believes studying in the morning is more effective and helps him remember his chapters better."

Speaking on the new provision of availing older writers in special cases, Ganapati said, "We managed to find a young writer with help from his college. We had no idea that even older writers are allowed. Even college wasn’t aware of it. Finding an older writer would have been much easier."

Down, but not out
For lakhs of students, nervous and tensed, Sayali Jadhav has proved to be a motivation. A student of C K T Junior College, New Panvel, Sayali appeared for the exam from an ambulance parked outside the examination centre. Despite meeting with an accident, in which Sayali sustained multiple fractures, she refused to waste her year. Following her request, the board allowed Sayali to appear for the exam from an ambulance with the help of a writer. Sayali has fractured her right hand, right leg and pelvic girdle and has been advised complete bed rest.

Sayali Jadhav appears for the exam from an ambulance parked outside her exam centre
Sayali Jadhav appears for the exam from an ambulance parked outside her exam centre 

Speaking to mid-day, Sayali’s father Ravindra, said, "During her study leave, she met with a serious accident at home. She fell down the stairs and was admitted to the ICU. This happened just 20 days before the exam. But she was determined not to waste a year and sought help from her college".

Commenting on Sayali’s determination, college principal Dr Narendrakumar Jadhav said, "She’s a bright student. The accident was unfortunate. Initially we told her to appear for the exam in July, so that she doesn’t waste a year. But she was confident about appearing in February and sought our support. We immediately wrote to the board, as we are aware that special arrangements can be made in special cases."

Sayali will appear for her practical examination later under the out-of-turn facility offered by state board, wherein students who have been unable to appear during the regular exam timetable for justifiable reasons are given a second chance.

"I was confident about appearing for the exam with the help of a writer. I had studied sincerely for the entire year, and didn’t want my efforts to go waste. I had a chance of appearing in July, but by then admissions for prestigious colleges are over," said Sayali.

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