12 suicides in four days and still counting. Telangana is in a state of shock over a wave of suicides by students after the declaration of the 12th standard examination results.
The tragedy is that the system has failed them. A major bungling in evaluation of answer sheets, awarding marks, and preparation of mark sheets evoked widespread outrage across the state.
The Telangana State Board for Intermediate Education (TSBIE) has come under criticism following a spate of suicides by students who were shocked to find that they had failed in the final year of the two-year intermediate course (10 plus 2), in subjects in which they had scored well in the first year.
Ever since the results were declared on April 19, there has been a flood of complaints from students and parents about glaring discrepancies in the evaluation and tabulation of marks. Some students have been wrongly declared as ‘failed’ and ‘absent.’ Many bright students who did well in the first year failed in the second year. Several students were shocked to find that they were given zero marks. Out of nearly 9 lakh students who appeared for the exam in March, over 2.80 lakh were failed.
Amid growing demand for a thorough inquiry and justice to the students who are made to suffer for no fault of theirs, several student organisations and parents have been staging protest demonstrations before the office of the TSBIE in Hyderabad for the past two days.
A girl from Mancherial district, who was among the district toppers in the first year with 98 marks in one of the subjects, was shocked to see that she had failed in the same subject in the second year.
Several toppers have failed to clear the exam due to the alleged blunders committed by the Board in evaluation and tabulation of marks. In some cases, the wrong subject name was printed on the students’ mark sheets. Reports from across the state said that at least 12 students have killed themselves as they could not pass the exam.
Facing flak from the opposition and student organisations, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government has constituted a three-member committee to probe the issue. Headed by the managing director of the Telangana State Technology Services Venkateshwar Rao, the committee includes Prof Vasan from BITS-Pilani, Hyderabad and Prof Nishanth from IIT, Hyderabad.
“We will take necessary action after receiving the report from the expert committee. I appeal to the opposition parties and student organisations not to spread panic over the issue,” the State Education Minister Jagadish Reddy said. There’s been mounting pressure on him to resign.
The TRS working president and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s son KT Rama Rao took to Twitter and said, “Regarding the results, students and parents are requested not to worry. If anyone feels something has gone wrong with their marks, please apply for recounting or re-verification. Our government is taking steps to ensure that injustice is not done to a single student.”
Judicial probe demanded
The Telangana Congress has demanded a judicial probe by a sitting High Court judge into the alleged irregularities committed by officials of the Intermediate Board and Globarena Technologies, the city-based firm that was hired by the government to do data and result processing.
“The blunders committed by the TSBIE in the exam results have caused immense agony to thousands of students and their parents. The government should immediately suspend the Board officials for their callous approach,” the AICC spokesperson Dr Sravan Dasoju said.
In a letter to the Chief Minister, the Congress leader demanded setting up help centres in every district to enable the students to report their grievances and re-evaluation of answer papers free of cost. “The students should be allowed to write improvement exams at free of cost. It is improper to penalise the students for the mistakes committed by the authorities,” Sravan said.
It is alleged that Globarena, the firm that was awarded the contract for data processing including admissions and allotment of exam centres, and tabulation of results, committed an error that led to several students being declared as failed.
The Congress alleged that the TSBIE had violated several norms and handed the contract to an inexperienced firm. Earlier, the data processing was handled by the state-owned Centre for Good Governance (CGG), while the result processing was outsourced to private agencies.
However, Globarena CEO VSN Raju denied the allegations and said that his company had bagged the order through the tender process and claimed that it has been in the field for the past 20 years, and provided technical support to 26 universities and boards across the country.
Meanwhile, the secretary of the TSBIE Ashok admitted that there were few technical errors at the local level. He asserted that the Board was working in a transparent and efficient manner.
Admitting a Public Interest Litigation filed by a child rights organisation, the Telangana High Court ordered re-evaluation of papers of all the students who have been declared failed. Calling the errors as a ‘grave disaster’, the court directed the government to conduct re-valuation of the exam papers of all the students who had failed.
“Why should the students come up with an application for re-evaluation when it is the mistake of the Board? It is a grave disaster. Hence, let the state pool its machinery, work overtime and solve this issue. After all, the future of our young students is at stake. It’s the responsibility of the state government to win the confidence of the people,” the court said.