This year’s Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exams have started without the mandatory watchdog panel that keeps a watch over the examination process. After dissolving last year’s panel, the state government has not yet formed a new one in the Mumbai division of the state board.
It is mandatory for every division in the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) to have a standing committee consisting of non-government members such as teachers and principals. This panel has roles ranging from checking the condition of institutes acting as exam centres before the exams begin and forming squads that visit exam centres to check on the conduct of the exams.
However, this year, the board has been forced to begin the exams without the panel. “The state government has not yet appointed any members to the standing committee,” said Duttatray Jagatap, chairperson of the Mumbai division, which includes Thane, Palghar and Raigad. “The committee is needed to help us in conducting the exams.”
Without the panel, the number of flying squads keeping vigilance on the exam centres in the division has also reduced this year. “There are over a 1,000 exam centres in the division, we need as many flying squads as possible,” he said. “Since there are panel members who can be part of the flying squad, we only have those formed by education inspectors and collectors to monitor centres.”
The previous panel was dissolved in the middle of the board exams last year as it was customary for new governments to dismiss old members to bring in their own. But new appointments to the panel have not been finalised because of internal disputes between Shiv Sena and BJP, said education officials.
Secretary of the board, Siddheshwar Chandekar said that they are hoping that the new panel will be formed at least before the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams which will start from March 1. “The Mumbai division has the largest number of students, nearly 3.1 lakh in HSC and 3.4 lakh in SSC, in the state,” said Chandekar. “No other divisional board has such a large number of students’, boards like Pune too have two lakh students at the most, so we have a huge workload.”