The third day of the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exams had a mere handful of students writing the first language papers. Each paper, such as Marathi, Urdu, French, Pali and others, had between three and six takers in each institution and this has made schools and colleges in Mumbai approach the state board, asking them to saaign centralised and a common centres for these papers.
Holding exams for a few students puts a strain on their resources, schools and colleges in Mumbai said.
Among the exams held on Thursday, only 9 students had registered for Sindhi, 30 for Pali, 5,089 for French, and 9,598 for Urdu, among others. Exams were held across 557 centres in the Mumbai division, which includes Palghar, Thane and Raigad. Similarly, 215 examinees wrote Pali and 446 took the German exam on Wednesday.
Some of the subjects such as Hindi Applied and Defence studies had just one student. To make matters worse, students often choose subjects by mistake and not turn up on the day of the exam.
At MVM School and Junior College in Andheri, three students appeared for Urdu and three for French. The centre, which usually gets over 300 students, and stayed open till 6pm on Thursday for only six students as the two papers were scheduled from 3pm to 6 pm.
A supervisor, clerk, security persons and the principal had to be pressed into action to conduct the exam. An entire classroom, which seats 25 to 30 students, was prepared; staff brought in question papers from the custody centre and dropped the answer sheets there after the exam.
“You conduct an exam for one student or a hundred, the resources required are the same,” said Shantilal D Shah, principal of the junior college. “The staff stayed back till 7pm to complete all the procedures.”
Principals said that such exercises put enormous strain on school or college resources. A remuneration of Rs 25 per supervisor is not enough to cover the expenses.
They suggested assigning common centres to all students taking subjects that do not have many takers. “The board could have a few such centres all over the city,” said Shah.
However, board officials said that it was unpractical to allot separate centres only for such subjects. “It is unfair to students to assign them multiple centres. It is for their convenience alone that we keep one centre throughout the exam,” said Siddheshwar Chandekar, divisional secretary.
Mixed reactions for Marathi paper:
Students were divided over the difficulty-level of the Marathi paper on Thursday. Most said it was easy and they could finish it on time, while some were in tears after the exam. “I was able to answer all the questions and didn’t face any problem,” said Poonam Yadav, a commerce student from Mhatre College, Andheri.
Prachi Pandya, a Borivli student writing her exams at St John's High School, said the paper was too lengthy to finish in three hours' time. "It haunts me thinking about how I prepared for language papers. We don't get time to think at all. We just have to keep writing for three hours and still leave something behind," she said.