The result of the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) exam is deemed a “mammoth victory” for Kerala’s Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite apprehensions, the state government had taken the decision to conduct the exam and eliminate the uncertainty troubling the students.
On Tuesday, when the results were announced, it was revealed that 98.82% of students are eligible for higher education. This overall result percentage is 0.71% higher than the previous year. In the regular stream, 4,17,101 of total 4,22,902 students are eligible for their higher studies.
“We want you to know that we are proud of you, and it is irrespective of your grades. You have taken these exams during a difficult time; which itself makes all of you winners. This "generation hope" will lead the change for a better future,” said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a tweet.
In March this year, while the SSLC exams were being conducted, the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the state had increased, and subsequently, the state government had announced a lockdown [ahead of the nationwide lockdown]. At that time, exams for three subjects, Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics, were yet to be conducted and had to be postponed. Along with the SSLC exams, higher secondary exams were also postponed and conducted later between May 26 and May 30.
However, Opposition leader in state Assembly Ramesh Chennithala, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee President Mullappally Ramachandran and senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy had demanded that the exams not be conducted. Kerala Students’ Union (KSU), the student wing of the Congress party, even staged agitations violating COVID-19 protocols. KPCC working president and Lok Sabha member K Sudhakaran had targeted the CM, calling the decision “madness”. But it should be noted a month after the exam, not a single positive case has been reported from among the about 13 lakh students who appeared for the exam.
Conducting exams, that too for 13 lakh students, indeed, was an uphill task for the Education Department and the state government. While the students were worried about their future, concerns regarding their safety were also being raised. After much consultation, the government took up the challenge. This decision came as a relief to the students and parents.
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Along with the coordination among various departments, the Education Department had ensured facilities to provide healthcare in schools. Apart from the government departments including health, local governments, police, and transport, Parents Teachers Associations (PTAs) in each school, student and youth organisations too played a significant role in this process.
Under the leadership of the PTAs, parents in all schools were involved in disinfecting the exam halls and surroundings. They also helped ensure physical distancing. Help desks were set up in all the schools. An adequate supply of sanitisers and masks was also ensured. Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and many others came forward to help conduct these exams.
Interestingly, the Kuttanad educational district, which was one of the worst affected areas in 2018 floods and 2019 floods, has recorded a 100% pass percentage. Many students from this region had lost their textbooks, notes, etc. in the floods. So, as part of the government’s effort to strengthen public education in the state, Rs 5.94 crore were spent in Kuttanad alone.
The public education sector in the state has been witnessing many changes for the last four years. The flow of students from private schools to government schools during this period can be seen as a positive sign. More than 1,00,000 students have been enrolled in government and government-aided schools this year alone.
Meanwhile, in the neighbouring state, the Tamil Nadu government has cancelled the class X board examinations.
In Karnataka, on the other hand, a teacher deputed on the examination duty has tested positive for COVID-19, and at least 50 people are at risk of having been infected including 20 teachers and 20 students in Bagalkot. Along with this, a few students who have appeared for the SSLC exams have also tested positive for COVID-19.
The SSLC exams in Karnataka began on June 24 and are supposed to go on till July 4.
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