Prathamesh Jain, 15, fenced his way to 100% at the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams. For his classmate, Yash Patil, 15, throwball was the route to the perfect score.
When the results were announced on Friday, the board’s scheme to award 25 extra marks for sports along with the Best-Five policy allowed these students to score 100%.
In all, 10 students in the Mumbai division achieved 100%, said board officials, but they could not say how many benefited from the 25 extra marks. Responding to criticism on the sports marks bounty, the division’s secretary RR Bhise said: “It’s wonderful that students are scoring so well. This is progress.” However, the state board is now reconsidering the sports marks scheme because the scheme is being misused.
First announced in 2007, it grants 25 extra marks to those participating in any sport at the state level and higher.
The sports and youth welfare department, unhappy with the way the marks are being awarded, has also proposed changes in its draft state sports policy, awaiting Cabinet approval.
It proposes that from the next year, students be given marks based on the level at which they have participated, and if they have won (see box).
“The scheme was meant to benefit students who have genuine difficulty studying because they compete at a very high level and miss classes,” said an official with the sports and youth welfare department. “Now, those who participate for the sake of it benefit, which is unfair to the real athletes.”
Parents and principals allege the scheme has spawned racketeers, who sell participation certificates so students can claim the marks. The draft makes note of this. “It is observed that in some districts, the complete team is of students of Class 10 and 12. This means teams are being selected compromising on sport and sporting spirit… and selection is done for the benefit of grace marks. It is observed that many types of misconduct and corruption have taken place.”
Officials estimate that every year, between 3,000 and 4,000 students in the state get the marks. In Mumbai this year, more than 1,000 students have gotten the marks, with many more in the process of applying.