As around 8.5 lakh students in Karnataka are expected to attend the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) examinations beginning Thursday, the government has taken various measures to instill confidence among takers while many students and parents express their fears to attend the same.
With several leaders of the opposition also suggesting the government to avoid possible risks in times of the pandemic as the number of fresh cases goes high on a daily basis, the situation has become challenging for officials across departments.
Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru about the preparations in place to conduct SSLC exams from Thursday, Minister Suresh Kumar stressed, “Conducting the exams is purely part of the government’s commitment, duty, and responsibility towards our young citizens and never a prestige issue.”
He added that consensus was taken from across stakeholders linked to the education, health, and other departments before deciding to go on with the examinations as per the schedule.
“While many pointed out some other states postponing the exams, one should realise that the scenario in Karnataka is different. Passing the tenth grade is important for our students as they pick specialisations for higher studies from the Pre-University level itself,” he explained.
The minister further cited the decision of a Supreme Court bench to dismiss a Special Leave Petition (SLP) challenging the state government of conducting SSLC exams, in the view of the coronavirus pandemic.
“These exams are our students’ right and future and they deserve it. We have taken inputs from various expert committees with members roped in from the Departments of Health, Home, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Transport. and even representatives of the World Health Organisation to ensure these exams are conducted smoothly,” Suresh Kumar said.
Further, explaining steps taken by the government to ensure hygiene in examination centres, Suresh Kumar said all centres will be cleaned daily before and after the examination. “Intense sanitisation methods will be in place across all exam centres. Each item used in each hall will be washed with soap and bleaching powder. Further, the physical education instructor in each school will be responsible for overseeing that social distancing is maintained all throughout,” he said.
Special transport facility for students from neighbouring states
The Karnataka government has also made transport arrangements for candidates travelling from rural areas and from across the borders of neighbouring states like Kerala and Maharashtra.
According to officials of the Department of Public Instruction, buses arranged in collaboration with the State Transport Department will ferry such students to and from the exam centres.
“Students will be charged in a way to cover only the fuel costs of the transporter,” an officer said.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka government had announced quarantine for incoming citizens from other states earlier. When asked whether these would be applicable to exam attendees, minister Suresh Kumar said, “Their (candidates’) hall tickets will be considered as passes for crossing the border. Arrangements have been made to collect swabs of those entering from other states for the exam as well, in coordination with the respective Deputy Commissioner and the health department.”
All students to wear masks, govt to provide N-95 masks to those unwell
The Karnataka government Wednesday announced that N-95 masks will be provided to all invigilators and students possessing symptoms of cold or fever.
According to a statement issued by the Karnataka Secondary Education Examination Board (KSEEB), such students will be provided a separate room in each exam centre.
Over 7000 cops to manage smooth run: Home Minister
Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai Wednesday said that over 7,000 police personnel have been deployed across the state to ensure SSLC exams are conducted issue-free.
“While the District Superintendents of Police across 30 districts will oversee the process for the Home Department, as many as 5758 police personnel will be deployed at examination centres. At least 1246 cops will ensure security on routes of question and answer papers. 5758 volunteers from Scouts and Guides will also assist the cops for conducting the exams smoothly,” he said.
Bommai added that prohibitory orders invoking section 144 of the CrPc will be in place in areas around 200 metres’ radius next to each exam centre.
“As police officials above the age of 55 years have been advised not to step out on the field, they will be coordinating office-related work for the exams,” Bommai clarified.
According to statistics shared by the KSEEB, 81,265 staff members linked to the Education Department will also be in charge of the examinations.
AAP accuses govt of approving SSLC exam centres near sealed areas
Leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Karnataka Wednesday alleged that the state government has approved exam centres for the upcoming SSLC exams near areas sealed as containment zones due to Covid-19.
“For example, an examination centre has been opened at the Royal Concorde School, just a few meters away from the sealed-down area of the Hongasandra ward,” Mohan Dasari, President, AAP Bengaluru pointed out.
He further added that the ‘peak stage’ of Covid-19 is affecting different sectors of the society including those in the academic realm. “Students are confused of examination while they and their parents are scared of infection. However, Education Minister Suresh Kumar’s move in the worst scenario, especially in Bengaluru, is extremely deadly,” he alleged.
However, Minister Suresh Kumar denied the claims saying all guidelines in place by the Department of Health and Family Welfare were followed while approving examination centres.
“The definition of containment zones itself has changed now as the entire area need not be sealed barring a set distance around the residence of the infected person. In case, an examination centre falls within the prescribed area, students will be shifted to alternate centres away from the place. Each education district is equipped with two such alternate centres as well,” he said.
Implement safety measures strictly: Kumaraswamy
Former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy Wednesday urged the Karnataka government to ensure safety measures are implemented strictly.
— Express Bengaluru (@IEBengaluru) June 24, 2020
“Even though parents and other stakeholders tried airing their concerns on conducting the exams (in view of the pandemic), the government has assured its preparedness for conducting the same. Therefore, I urge the government to implement all safety measures put in place strictly,” Kumaraswamy said in a video statement.
Further, he advised students to follow all guidelines and to avoid panic. Kumaraswamy had earlier demanded the government to not hold the exams at least till October.
The SSLC exams in Karnataka are scheduled to be held from Thursday (June 25) to July 4 in 3,209 exam centres across the state. Students from containment zones are barred from appearing for the exam. Such students will be instead treated as fresh candidates and will be allowed to attend the exams later.
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