SSLC exam decision not unilateral: CM

Published on Jun 30, 2021 12:35 AM IST

Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Tuesday cleared the air on conduct of the Karnataka Secondary School Leaving Certification (SSLC) examination, after the health and education ministers locked horns over the announcement

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HT Image
ByArun Dev, Bengaluru

Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Tuesday cleared the air on conduct of the Karnataka Secondary School Leaving Certification (SSLC) examination, after the health and education ministers locked horns over the announcement.

Announcing the dates of the Class 10 examinations, S Suresh Kumar, Karnataka’s minister for primary and secondary education, on Monday said that the two exams for Class 10 will be held on July 19 and July 22 respectively. A total of 876,581 students are eligible for the SSLC exams which were delayed due to the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The decision drew criticism as the third wave of infections, expected by the end of the year or earlier, is likely to impact children below the age of 18. Moreover, this age category is yet to be eligible for vaccination in India.

However, hours after the decision was announced, state health minister Dr K Sudhakar said at a press conference that he was not aware of the examination dates, as he had not yet spoken with the education minister. He added that he did not know whether the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) was also consulted regarding the matter.

“I am unaware of this decision, and I need to consult the education minister on this announcement. I cannot say whether the exams shall be conducted or not. The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) will give its opinion on this,” said Sudhakar.

He added that the education department is yet to submit the number of teaching and non-teaching staff for vaccination before the exams.

Responding to this allegation, education minister Kumar said that officials of the health department were kept in the loop before making the decision. “The commissioner of the health department was present during the two-hour-long meeting with district administrations on holding SSLC examinations, and also directed district administrations on following the SOP,” he said.

While this issue expectedly caused confusion within the cabinet, CM Yediyurappa intervened and dismissed allegations of lack of communication. He confirmed that the education minister took the decision after consulting him.

Later in a tweet, Yediyurappa said: “Minister of education S Suresh Kumar had discussed with me in advance and took the decision to schedule the SSLC exam in July. The decision was taken after a thorough discussion of the subject and is in the best interest of the students. It is not a unilateral decision. Let there be no confusion over the subject.”

After the CM’s tweet, health minister K Sudhakar, who an evening before stated that he was unaware of the decision, retracted his statement, saying that the education minister had discussed with health experts before taking the call, and CM Yediyurappa was also informed.

“He (Kumar) told me last evening that he had discussed with the CM regarding the decision as I was in another meeting, I was not aware of.... in the evening he informed me about it. I think the discussions were also held with the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC),” he said.

During the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic, too, the government had drawn criticism over the lack of coordination between the departments, with the then health minister Sriramulu and medical education minister Sudhakar occasionally competing with each other, creating confusion.

Subsequently, Sriramulu, who is now the social welfare minister, was divested of the health and family welfare portfolio by the chief minister, which was then allocated to Sudhakar with the intention that one minister handling the related portfolios amid the pandemic would be beneficial.

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