Mumbai’s counselling helplines received 5,000 calls from HSC, SSC students
Battling a learning disability, a 15-year-old student from the city was anxious a day before his SSC exams, as he had opted out of the concessions granted by the board to him. To make it worse, his friends mocked him. Angry, the boy called the board’s helpline. It took a series of discussions by the board counsellors to talk him out of his anxiety, only after which the 15-year-old could take the exams.
This was just one of the more than 5,000 calls the 10 teacher-counsellors of Mumbai division’s official helpline at Vashi received from SSC and HSC students from the city, Thane, Raigad and Palghar.
“We got a lot of calls from students asking about the new paper pattern. As the board moved to concept-based questions, counsellors assured students that the papers would in fact be easier,” said Murlidhar More, a counsellor at the board.
Counsellors said a lot of students just wanted to talk to someone, which is proving to be a challenge in these tech-savvy times. “Some of them were afraid of really small things and just needed to hear that nothing will go wrong. For instance, many students called the helpline after the exam saying they had not pasted the holocraft sticker on their answer sheets. They were worried that in such a situation, their papers will not be evaluated and that they would fail, which does not happen because in such cases the supervisor sticks the holocraft,” said board counsellor Mukesh Dangat.
Scrapping of oral exams for languages and social sciences added to their stress. “Many were worried that they won’t be able to complete their papers as they had a 100-mark exam,” said Ashok Sarode, a teacher counsellor.
Parents too called with their queries. “From tips on writing the exams to career guidance after Class 10, we got a wide range of queries,” said Smita Shipurkar, a teacher counsellor, who attended she more than 1,000 calls a day.
“While the helplines are officially open between 8am and 8pm, we took calls even before and after that. Many students study late in the night and often have queries. We addressed each of them.”
Sharad Khandagale, secretary, Mumbai divisional board, said, “The board tried to ensure students sailed through the exams smoothly. With close to 4 lakh students appearing for the exams from the Mumbai division this year, the counsellors’ help was important.”