Pradeep Pattanayak

Even as the preparations by School and Mass Education department preparations are in full swing to conduct the annual board exams in offline mode for the first time in the State after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, parents, teachers and educationists have expressed concerns over the safety of students owing to the prevailing heatwave conditions, besides the rising Covid cases in the country. 

It is seen as a big challenge for the State government to conduct the annual exams in such conditions when in the pre-pandemic period, exams were conducted in March before the advent of the heatwave.  

However, State School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash said,  "The State Education Department has made all necessary preparations for the smooth conduct of the board exams. We don’t think Covid will play spoilsport for the coming examinations.”

According to board officials, a total of 5,85,730 students will appear for Class 10 HSC exams at 3,540 exam centres. At least 315 nodal centres have been set up for the examination. Similarly, a high of 3,21,508 students will sit for the Class 12 board exams this year at 1,133 exam centres. The State government has prepared 202 nodal centres for stocking the question papers of Class 12.

As per educationist Kamal Prasad Mohapatra, Examination judges students’ intellectual capability. It brings them an opportunity to assess their capability.”  

Though students are excited to sit at the offline exam for the first time after two years, they are nervous about the prevailing uncertainties.

“Last year, while the mediocre students secured more than the expected marks, some bright students were awarded marks below their expectations. This year the situation is different, altogether. My aim is to secure good marks,” said a Class X student Shreekrushna Dhal. 

A Class 12 student of Malkangiri district said, “After a gap of two years, our examination is going to be held in offline mode. We are satisfied with our preparation and looking forward to taking the examination.”  

Meanwhile, question papers are being dispatched to exam nodal centres. The Education department is more concerned about the safety of question papers and management of examinations in remote and Maoist-hit areas. For which, question papers are stocked in police stations in the cut off areas and Naxal hit districts. 

The education department has also constituted special squads to stop malpractice and other illegal activities during the exam.

Chief Secretary Suresh Mohapatra had last week conducted a meeting with the department officials, Collectors and SPs of all districts.

Mohapatra had directed authorities to keep a hawk-eye on mischief mongers who create rumours on question paper leaks.

Informing about the preparations, the district education officer (DEO), Balasore, Bishnucharan Sutar said, “As many as 12 nodal centres have been set up to store question papers in the district. Similarly, four flying squads have also been constituted to conduct the examinations across the district. To check malpractice and other illegal activities, CCTV cameras have been installed at 50 centres.”

The department has directed the authorities to ensure the installation of CCTV cameras at all nodal and exam centres to prevent any untoward incident.