Under-19 World Cup winning skipper Unmukt Chand's high-profile tussle with St. Stephen's may have found a solution but there are a number of sportspersons doing the country proud who have had to drop a year due to attendance shortage or approach the court to appear for examinations.
The athletes are made to suffer despite an old directive from the human resource development ministry for granting special leave of absence from their educational institutions to participate in sports meets and attend coaching camps. There is also provision for conducting special examinations if they were forced to skip regular exams because they had to participate in state, national and international competitions or to attend camps for this purpose.
As per the HRD ministry's order number No.F.18-1/87-Sports IV dated March 9, 1987, it had issued a notification to education secretaries of all state governments and union territories for granting special leave to outstanding sportspersons to take part in competitions or attend camps.
The copy of the notification has also been marked to the University Grants Commission secretary, Association of Indian Universities, Sports Authority of India and other departments concerned.
Kahlon the example
In 1988, golfer Harmeet Kahlon, an Arjuna awardee, had to approach the Punjab and Haryana high court to be permitted to sit for the 12th class CBSE board exams. "I was good in studies but because of golfing commitments my attendance was short and I was not allowed to sit for the board exams. I had to then approach the court. After that, the CBSE was adamant it would not release my results, saying the court had only directed it to sit for the exams. So, I had to approach the court again to get the results. I scored over 80 percent, which was quite decent," he recalled. "Now when there is a clear cut HRD ministry direction, schools and colleges should support the cause of sportspersons so they can also complete their education promptly," he added.
Ace pistol shooter Heena Sidhu, who has Commonwealth, Asian and World Cup medals to her credit, had to skip her final Bachelor of Dental Sciences (BDS) exams as she was preparing for the London Olympics, and now she will sit for the exams in November. In the past too, due to her sporting commitments, she had to skip exams on a couple of occasions, and as a result, her course has been extended by a year.