Even as the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exams are underway, the Maharashtra education department has dismissed all nominated members in the standing committee in all the nine divisions of the state education board, including Mumbai.
The Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education sent dismissal letters to the members on Wednesday.
In Mumbai division, there were eight members in the standing committee instead of the required 16. There were principals and teachers from prominent schools in the city and education department officials.
Though there were allegations that the move was in response to the alleged paper leak incident on March 10 when the HSC book-keeping and accountancy paper went viral on WhatsApp during the exam, education officials said it was customary for a new government to dismiss old members to bring in their own.
“The action was taken as per the government decision taken last month,” said Vinod Tawde, education minister. “There are committees in place to conduct exams, the board members mainly work on the academic syllabus.”
However, state board officials said the standing committee members are a must during exams to keep a check on malpractices and assessments; hence they should not have been dismissed during exams. “The dismissal of members is not connected with Monday’s incident, it is purely a bureaucratic decision, which shouldn’t have been taken in the middle of board exams,” said Siddheshwar Chandekar, secretary of the state board, Mumbai division.
Chandekar said this move will reduce the number of flying squads keeping vigilance on the exam centres in the division. “There are over a 1,000 exam centres in the division, we need as many flying squads as possible,” he said. “Since the flying squad consisting of these members will not be able to function now, will only have the ones formed by education inspectors and collectors to monitor centres.”
Appointing new members will take some time, said officials. New nominations will have to be made, followed by checks on every nomination before appointment. “It is a tedious, time-consuming process. Every government wants to bring people that they favour to the committee,” said an official.