Children studying between Std I – VIII in CBSE schools in Maharashtra, had a surprise test waiting for them on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. This test turned into a 'surprise' only because the state education department, which is conducting it, chose to inform CBSE schools at the last moment even though it was planned at least 2 months ago. Since the test is mandatory, CBSE schools are now in a fix how to accommodate it along with the ongoing final exams.
The test, called Sankalit Mulyamapan Chachni (Summative Test), consisted of language and maths papers and is mandatory for all boards.
Principals were outraged at the callous attitude of the state education department but chose to 'give in' rather than rake up the issue. A principal said, "We are not against the exam at all. Since our final exams are going on, even a week's advance notice would have been more than enough. Anyway, we have decided to go ahead and squeeze in the exam with the regular paper." Another senior principal agreed saying that she too "will take a chance" by conducting the paper in an already packed schedule.
Maharashtra State Council for Education, Research and Training (MSCERT), the state body in charge of conducting SMC, remains defiant and blames schools for this mess. Govind Nandede, director of MSCERT said, "For almost 2 months, we have been talking about this. Our local education office has been keeping in touch with schools that this test has to be conducted. It is not our fault that certain schools do not communicate with the department. This test is mandatory and everyone has to do it."
The option of rescheduling the tests was ruled out as the question paper is common. The fear of paper leak led the education department to be rigid on the exam dates. However, at least 2 schools reported that the question papers were not kept in sealed envelopes. "Question papers for some classes we received were anyway kept in the open and were transported to schools that way only. So by default, the paper leak has already happened but then we all are forced to bury our head in the sand. Let's get this test over and done with else the education department will unnecessarily trouble us later on," the principal said.