In the days since the Intermediate exam results were released, hoards of Telangana students and their parents have descended upon the headquarters of the Board of Intermediate Education (BIE). Security has been increased at the office in Nampally, but these students won't be dissuaded. They are demanding answers for the wide-scale blunders that could affect their futures.
A total of 9 lakh students had appeared in the intermediate exams held in February-March, but many are now in a state of distress. The announcement of the results of the Intermediate exams (Class 11 and Class 12 under the state board, overseen by the state government) in Telangana last Thursday has led to utter chaos.
Students quickly discovered that some had received abysmal scores, despite topping those exams on previous occasions, and others had been marked absent despite appearing for the exam. Close to 15 students have killed themselves, allegedly dejected due to the marks that they received.
So what exactly happened and who is being blamed?
What are the issues?
As soon as the results were announced, the first issue that came to light was that many bright students who did well in the first year failed in the second year. Most of them were shocked as they were awarded zero, one or two marks.
One of the biggest blunders involved G Navya, a student from Mancherial district, who was shocked to see zero marks on her Telugu paper. She was one of the district toppers with 98 marks in the same subject in the first year. When a leading Telugu daily carried her story, the BIE officials swung into action and after re-verification gave her 99 marks. But not everyone's grievances were addressed so quickly.
Some students who appeared for their exam were also marked as 'absent' or 'fail' in their final results.
Many of the students who have gathered at the TSBIE headquarters say that they unable to apply for re-evaluation because the TSBIE website is not functioning. The board, meanwhile, is barring students from entering their office, and insists that online application is the only way.
With the deadline for re-evaluation set at April 25, many students are demanding that the Board answer their queries or at least extend the deadline or drop the re-evaluation fee.
Who is to blame?
Many students have questioned the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS)-led government for its silence on the issue. TSBIE Secretary A Ashok has admitted that there were some lapses in declaring the results. He, however, assured students that the discrepancies would be rectified.
The government claims that alleged lapses may have taken place in the system deployed by Globarena Technologies, whose services were hired by TSBIE to conduct the exams, which included both data processing (admissions, centre allotment, etc) and result processing.
A three-member committee, headed by Venkateswar Rao, managing director of Telangana State Technological Service was also constituted to find out whether there were any errors in publication of results on account of any systemic errors of the agency. The committee, which also has Professor A. Vassan of BITS Hyderabad and Professor Nishanth Dongari of IIT Hyderabad as its members, is expected to submit its report on Wednesday.
However, Globarena CEO VSN Raju has denied the allegations.
Politicising student deaths
The Congress has alleged that TSBIE had violated several norms and handed the contract Globarena, which it contends was not competent or experienced enough to handle the project. The party alleges that the firm was given the contract despite not fulfilling the pre-requisites mandated by TSBIE.
Accusing TSBIE of deliberately overlooking the shortcomings of Globarena, the Congress has also sought the suspension of TSBIE secretary A Ashok Kumar.
In response, Education Minister G Jagadish Reddy hit out at Opposition leaders alleging that they were 'politicising' the issue of intermediate results and said that Opposition parties were behaving 'irresponsibly' and are causing panic amongst the students.
Reacting to the agitation by political parties, Jagadish Reddy said, "A committee has been formed to probe whether there were technical problems and if so, who is responsible. Before the committee could establish if there was any discrepancy, politicians are making a hullabaloo which is causing panic amongst students. This is not correct. Because of your politics, people are being affected."
Meanwhile, the Telangana High Court has also pulled up the state government, asking the latter to submit a timeline by Monday on the re-evaluation of answer sheets.