The upcoming civic polls will clash with the orals and practical papers of the SSC and HSC board exams. Teachers’ groups, worried about the exam schedule being delayed, on Tuesday met education minister Vinod Tawde asking him to exempt teachers from election duties and limit the use of schools as polling stations.
The higher secondary certificate (HSC) internal assessments — or orals and practical exams — are scheduled between February 8 and 24; the secondary school certificate (SSC) from February 15 to March 4, according to the timetable released by the board.
Thousands of schools, however, will be forced to remain shut between February 21 and 24, so they can be used as polling stations for the civic body elections. Teachers, too, will be occupied in conducting the elections and counting ballots.
The teachers’ groups said this leaves them with little time to conduct the exams. “Every school has hundreds of students taking the boards,” said Rajesh Pandya, a teacher at the Fatimadevi English High School, Malad, and member of the Teachers Democratic Front.
With the new aptitude tests for Class 10 students, schools will need more teachers, Pandya said. “If our teachers and premises are unavailable for three to four days, we will be unable to meet the deadline. The department must either relieve us of poll duties or give us more time to take tests.”
Under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, teachers are allowed three assignments — census, disasters and elections. But, teachers said poll duties end up wasting several days of teaching time, as they are also called for training a few days ahead of the elections. Some teachers are even assigned as polling officers, which requires them to stay back late on the polling and counting days.
“The government needs to look into this issue,” said Anil Bornare, a teacher at the Swami Muktananda High School in Chembur, and spokesperson of the Maharashtra Teachers Association.
Board officials, however, said they cannot change the exam timetable. “There is no room for adjustment, we cannot extend the time for internal exams, because written exams begin in March,” said Siddheshwar Chandekar, secretary of the Mumbai division of the board. “Schools have two weeks to conduct the assessments.”