EXACTLY AT 10.30 am when the gates of St Joseph’s Boys School, Khadki, opened to let the SSC students inside the exam centre on Monday, 15-year-old Pranali Gaikwad felt uncomfortable and suddenly collapsed on the road. Pranali apparently suffered from a “heatstroke” after being out in the blazing sun for a good 45 minutes. Parents and other students immediately rushed to help and offered her water. Little later, she gained consciousness. Pranali is a student of St Joseph’s Girls Convent School, situated near this school.
The girl was taken in by the school authorities and asked to rest in the staff room. At 11.15 am, Pranali entered the classroom to take the exam. “Though I lost 15 crucial minutes, I could finish the paper well on time,” said Pranali, breaking into a smile, as she came out of the exam centre at 1 pm.
Pranali said her grandfather, Ankush Jadhav, brought her to the exam centre on a two-wheeler. “In the traffic jam at Dapodi, we were stuck for quite sometime,” she said, adding “The blazing heat and vehicular pollution were unbearable, and made her dizzy the moment she reached the exam centre.”
To compound Pranali’s woes, she had to stand outside the school premises as the SSC students are allowed inside only at 10.30 am. Some students escaped the heat by taking shelter under trees.
Principal Father Anand said, “We have our other classes till 10…therefore, we allow SSC students only by 10.30 am,” he said. Parents, however, said the SSC board should direct schools to provide some seating arrangements as standing outside the gate is too much during hot days. “Not just at this school, at all schools the scene is similar. Children have to sweat it out in the blazing sun and risk their lives on road,” P Lokhande, a parent.
Sunil Padham, another parent, said the 11 am timing for SSC exam in March is inappropriate. “Children start from home at 9.30 am or 9.45 am…it is the peak traffic hour across the state and the situation is worse in places like Mumbai. The exam should ideally start at 9 am between 7 am and 9 am, as there are a few traffic snarls,” he said.
Also, Padham said the heat is too much in the month of March when the temperature keeps rising. “Therefore, 9 am time for SSC exam should be ideal as an individual is also fresh,” he said.
When contacted, SSC board secretary K Patil said the school should make efforts to provide proper seating arrangements under shades for students. “Some schools do it, others should also follow,” he said. Pertaining to exam timings, Patil said, if they get written suggestions from parents, they will be discussed and appropriate action will be taken.