As many as 4,500 Class-10 students across the country who are eligible to appear in the stage-2 of the prestigious National Talent Search Examination (NTSE) need not worry since the Punjab and Haryana high court has clarified that only re-examination of stage-1 for 85 Haryana quota seats would be ordered.
Justice GS Sandhawalia had on Friday directed the NCERT to postpone the stage-2 examination scheduled for May 11 (Sunday) all over the country.
The court was compelled to pass the order after Surina Rajan, principal secretary, Haryana school education department, had confirmed mass copying in the stage-1 examination at an examination centre, Saini Senior Secondary School, Narnaul (Mahendergarh).
The stage-1 of the NTSE is conducted by respective state/ Union Territory and qualified candidates, as per the state quota (based on student enrolment in Classes 9 and 10), appear in the stage-2 examination conducted by the NCERT.
As many as 46 students, out of total 99, who qualified from Haryana belonged to one institution namely Yadhuvanshi Shiksha Niketan School having two branches in Mahendergarh and Narnaul. All these 46 students had appeared in the exam at the Saini Senior Secondary School centre.
Justice Sandhawalia has ordered, “Since it (NTSE) is only for scholarship purpose and there is no such cut-off date or further admission to be taken on the strength of the said examination, the holding of the said examination can be delayed so that further orders can be passed by this court, whereby the examination for the state of Haryana can be re-conducted and a fresh list can be sent of the eligible candidates as per the quota of Haryana.”
The court order had come on a petition filed by Arundhati Dixit and six other students of Gurgaon through advocate Sameer Sachdeva challenging the stage-1 exam result. The case has been adjourned for next hearing to May 26.
SCERT’S ‘IRRESPONSIBLE’ APPROACH
Surina Rajan, in her report to the high court confirming use of unfair means in the stage-I of the NTSE, has submitted, “The same speaks of casual and irresponsible approach of the State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT) authorities.”
She added that keeping in view the high stakes involved, “SCERT authorities have failed creating a systemic solution to check mass copying by generating several versions of the question paper by jumbling questions, so as to ensure avoiding copying and use of unfair means”. Only single question paper was created for the entire state.
The report reads that the pattern of the seating plan was quite defective in the entire state in general and in examination centre of Saini Senior Secondary School, Narnaul (Mahendergarh), in particular.
“It was incumbent upon the SCERT authorities to have ensured that no two students of the same school sit together both vertically as well as horizontally,” it reads.
As per the report, students of Yadhuvanshi Shiksha Niketan School were “sitting side by side in a horizontal manner” in three rooms of the examination centre at Narnaul.
Also, SCERT neither published the stage -1 result in newspaper nor on its website on the date of declaration on February 18.
“Further more, instead of informing students, the Narnaul district education officer has conveyed the results of the qualified candidates to Yadhuvanshi Shiksha Niketan School on the same date i.e. February 18, which resulted into publication of news item at the level of the said school on February 19.
However, it was on the persistent demand of students that the SCERT published results on its website on February 20 and that, too, without mentioning roll numbers and names of schools,” the report added.
Rajan also informed that invigilators and centre superintendents were required to be posted from outside the centre of examination.
Every year, the National Talent Search Examination (NTSE) is held in two stages to identify talented students in Class 10, who are awarded scholarship of R 500 per month till completion of their professional courses in the field of medicine and engineering.
Ten students had qualified for the stage-2 from Chandigarh and were set to appear the exam on Sunday. However, all of them are now upset with the sudden development.
Suhavi Bansal, a student from Chandigarh who has qualified for the stage-2, said the latest development has left her stunned.
“I was preparing well for the last two months and now all of sudden, the exam is postponed and we have no idea when the fresh date would be announced,” she said.
Sanchit Verma, head of a city-based coaching centre, said the NTSE was started in 1963 and it was for the first time that the exam had been postponed.He said the NCERT should not put the students in the state of confusion and announce the date well in advance.
Director of Chandigarh State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT), Surinder Dhayia said the authorities handling examination should be more cautious since the effort of the hundreds of the students is at stake.
(With inputs from Vivek Gupta)