Eighteen students have committed suicide across Telangana in the last one week since the Telangana Board of Intermediate Education (TSBIE) released results for Class XI and Class XII exams on April 18.
Facing widespread protests by parents and student groups, the state government on Wednesday ordered re-evaluation of the answersheets of over 3 lakh students who were declared failed in the exams. This year, 9.74 lakh students appeared for the exams. Out of them, 3.28 lakh failed and their answersheets would now be re-evaluated.
The state government had awarded the contract for exam enrolment and processing of results to a private firm, Globarena Technologies. Students and parents allege that the firm’s system erroneously failed thousands of students or marked them absent for the exams.
Among those who committed suicide is G Nagendra, a student of Narayana College. Nagendra hanged himself at his home in Kushaiguda after he failed in Mathematics. His father G Vivekananda said he was good in studies. “We could not believe that he failed in Maths, his favourite subject. He became withdrawn and refused to eat. But we never thought he would take his life,” he said.
V Vennela of Nizamabad, who had failed in two subjects, consumed pesticide on the night of April 18 and died the next morning.
President of Telangana Parents’ Association N Narayana told The Indian Express that technical glitches in the evaluation system led to brilliant students getting 5 or 10 marks in some subjects and hundreds were marked absent despite appearing for the exams.
“There were technical glitches in the software deployed by Globarena Technologies. When the results were declared, the company admitted there were glitches but said they had been rectified. Now it appears the whole process was full of mistakes. Unfortunately, due to these mistakes, students who failed are taking their lives,” he said.
“Students who scored over 95 per cent in Class XI have failed in Class XII. We can understand if these brilliant students scored less than last year, but failing in one or more subjects raises questions,” Vishuvardhan Reddy, a parent said.
The protests gained momentum on Wednesday after G Navya, who got zero in Telugu in Class XII, applied for re-evaluation and the score was revised to 99.
“Navya’s case strengthens suspicions that the system was hit by errors most students have been failed or marked absent due to blunders. The government must set this right,’’ Narayana said.
Based on a PIL by Telangana Parents’ Association, the High Court on Tuesday asked TSBIE to re-evalulate the answersheets of the failed students. Telangana Education Department told the court that the process would take at least two months and added that it would submit a reply after discussions.
With the protests intensifying, the state government ordered re-evaluation of the exam sheets and an inquiry. A probe team, comprising G T Venkateshwara Rao, MD of Telangana State Technological Service, Dr A Vassan of BITS, Hyderabad, and Dr Nishanth Dongri of IIT, Hyderabad, has been constituted to find out if Globarena’s system had glitches.
Telangana Education Minister G Jagdish Reddy said he was waiting for the committee’s report. “If mistakes did occur, we will identify those behind them and punish them,’’ Reddy said.
Sources said the job of data processing was assigned to Globarena Technologies despite complaints of incompetence and poor track record against the firm. “Globarena failed to implement Examination Automation Work of JNTU, Kakinada in 2015 due to which lakhs of students faced immense hardship. JNTU filed a police complaint against Globarena. In spite of this, Telangana government awarded the contract to the firm and it has again done a shoddy job due to which 18 students committed suicide,” an official said.
Globarena CEO V S N Raju defended his firm and said a few minor glitches were rectified. “We did not commit any large-scale blunder as is being alleged,” he said.