Akshay Sharma, a Class 12 student, was on his way to a board exam on March 7 when a technical snag stopped suburban train services. But a timely call to the state education board’s helpline bailed him out.
“Had it not been for the counsellors at the board helpline, I would have missed the exam. They were co-operative enough to shift me to a centre near my house,” said Sharma.
Anil Gadhe, a counsellor who answered his call said that the helpline had received 123 such nervous calls within a few hours on that day.
This was just one of the many chaotic days that the counsellors of the board helpline at Vashi have had to contend with during the on-going exam period. So far, the helpline has received 5,250 calls students with all kinds of queries. “Sometimes the same students call us repeatedly. They are so distressed that they need comfort,” said Vijay Deshmukh, one of the counsellors on the helpline.
“The most challenging experience for us was when a student from a Dadar centre met with an accident two days before his exam. He was an orphan and people from his shelter called us to allow him to give the exam from the hospital,” said N M Bhamre, another counsellor on the helpline. The team met the divisional secretary, who made the necessary arrangements so that the student could take the exam in an ambulance.
The helpline was introduced in 2008 and is operational for the March as well as the October exams. Seeing the response and the number of calls on the helpline, a third number was added between March 1 and 6 for the Secondary School Certificate examinations. The counsellors said that they would be glad to have phones with caller id facilities to track students who hang up before a conversation is completed.
“Sometimes, a student is so nervous that we do not get time to take down his number. Therefore phones with caller ids would be handy,” added Ghade.