HSC exams kicked off on Tuesday with controversy over three questions in the poetry section of the English paper. One of the questions had the answer printed while the other two had no questions, but a reference line to poetry stating, “Accept any reasonably correct answer“. Students who attempted this questions-compulsory and not optional-will get marks once the chief moderators decide to allow it.
The 80-mark English paper is a compulsory subject for all the 14.5 lakh students who took the exam. In sub-questions A3 and A5 (two marks each), there were no questions. In A4, the two-mark question was with the answer. Supervisors across colleges asked students to attempt the three “My supervisor told us to simply write A3 and A5 in the answer booklet. For A4 I just wrote down the answer that was printed on the question paper,” said a student.
There was chaos in HSC exam halls on Tuesday as students did not know how to write answers when there were no questions, teachers said. An Std XII student said, “Initially, I was confused when I saw the question. I read all the sub-questions. I realized that there were no questions for A3, A4, and A5. A4 had the answer printed.” A teacher who was supervising the class in Pune said, “Many students had queries about this question today. They were very confused. We told them to attempt it in the best possible manner.”
“I told my students to simply write a few lines of the poetry that was printed on the question paper. The idea was to attempt the question,” said a supervisor at a Goregaon college. Sharad Gosavi, chairman of Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education, said it was a printing error and students who have attempted the particular questions will surely be awarded the marks as per the decision taken by the chief moderators. Junior college teachers have boycotted paper checking of the HSC exams over their demands and the chief moderators are also part of the strike. Once they are back on duty, they will take a decision about the default printing of answers.
Teachers, though, said students who did not attempt the questions should not be punished “as the questions themselves were missing. These students were writing their first boards and many would not know that attempting a question is key to getting marks in case of an error,” said the principal of a Mumbai college. Sayed Javeed, professor at the junior college wing of Poona College of Arts, Commerce, and Science, too said that the board must take a lenient view and award marks to all students, irrespective of whether they have attempted the questions or not. “The board must not stick to its policy of awarding marks only to those students who had attempted the questions,” Javeed said.
Another supervisor said instructions for teachers’ model solutions got printed on the question paper. Shivnath Darade, secretary of the Maharashtra Rajya Shikshan Samiti, said this is the first time an answer is seeping into a question paper. “The board should find out the root cause of the problem,” said Darade. A board official said the error was detected as soon as the subject committee in Pune examined the question paper after it was distributed to students at 11 am. The exam began in nine divisions of the state board, including Pune, Mumbai, Aurangabad, Nashik, Amravati, Nagpur, Latur, Kolhapur, and Konkan. More than 14.5 lakh students from Maharashtra attempted the first paper on Tuesday. Students said the paper was “very easy”.
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