Mumbai: Autistic Std XII student still awaits writer for board exams

With less than a month to go for his HSC board exams, the autistic student who was denied a writer is yet to hear from the state board about his request for a writer

It is that time of the year when students are busy preparing for their board exams. But 18-year-old Sachin Mane (name changed) is still not sure whether he will appear for his HSC board exams which commence on February 21.

The student’s parents worry that he will lose a year if the state board does not approve their request for a writer. Representational picture
The student’s parents worry that he will lose a year if the state board does not approve their request for a writer. Representational picture

Mane is autistic and Nair Hospital’s testing centre had provided him with a writer for his Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams two years ago. However, the same testing centre has denied him one for the upcoming Higher Secondary Education (HSC) exams.

Mane’s parents and his college, Guru Harkrishan Junior College, are yet to hear from the state board on the matter, and fear that Mane might miss out on an entire year because of the delay. “Mane appeared for his SSC exams with the help of a state board-approved writer.

This time, when the college tried to submit his documents along with the form which specifically asks for an approval from Nair Hospital’s testing centre, the doctors refused,” said Rekha Vijaykar, a senior director (school operations) at ADAPT, an organisation working to support children with special needs. “Mane is a fairly good student, but cannot write well if he gets too stressed.

So, we insisted on a substitute writer but the authorities refuse to budge,” added Vijaykar, who is fighting for Mane’s rights. According to the board’s rules, a student who needs concessions during board exams must submit Form No 5 along with their registration form to the board.

This former must be approved by the school/college principal and by doctors at a recognised testing centre. However, doctors at Nair Hospital’s testing centre have stated in their report that Mane cannot get a writer because the state board has no provision of providing writers to autistic children for the HSC board exams.

After getting no help from the testing centre, Mane’s college approached the state board directly, requesting them to approve a writer for him, especially since he had appeared for his SSC exams, too, with the help of a writer. “We have requested the board to do away with this re-test for a student who already has documents to prove he is autistic and was assigned a writer just two years ago.

How can he be denied a writer now?” demanded Vijaykar. “We have sent the request to the Mumbai divisional board and await a reply,” she added. As per rules, students who need writers must apply by early January. Only in emergency cases, for instance, when a student meets with an accident just before the exams, s/he is allowed a writer at the last minute.

“We are going through the application sent by the student’s school and his parents, and are discussing it with the board authorities in Pune,” said Laxmikant Pande, Mumbai division chairman for the state board. “Our son is working very hard to appear for his exams. How can the board deny him his right? We don’t want him to lose an academic year because of this confusion,” said the child’s parents.

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