First SSLC exam begins in Karnataka under Covid cloud

The first Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) board exam in English subject for class 10 students began across Karnataka under Covid cloud as per lockdown guidelines, an official said on Thursday.

“As scheduled, the 3-hour exam in English began at 10.30 a.m. at all the 3,179 centres across the state, as per the guidelines. Though 8.5 lakh students registered to appear, we will know after the exam how many of them wrote or missed for what reasons,” Karnataka Secondary Education Examination Board Director V. Sumangala told IANS here.

Of the 8.5 lakh students registered for the exams, which will conclude on July 4, 4,48,560 are boys and 3,99,642 are girls.

Of the total centres, 2,879 are main and 300 in block, set up to accommodate students spilling over from other centres to ensure social distancing.

“All students will be given 15 minutes extra from 1.30 p.m. to complete if any question remains or revise their answer sheets before handing over to the teachers,’ Sumangala said.

As directed, most students reported at all centres by 9.00 a.m. for thermal screening, wearing mask and washing hands with sanitizer for entering the exam hall by 10.15 a.m.

A whopping 86,000 people, including 63,000 state-run school teachers and 23,000 from other departments like health, police and social welfare are on duty for the smooth conduct of the exams in 6 subjects, including English, Kannada, third language, natural science, social science and mathematics.

“About 200-250 students have been accommodated at each centre, with about 200 centres located in the containment zones, said Sumangala.

The exams were earlier scheduled from March 27 to April 9, but were put off as the lockdown was extended thrice up to May 31.

As a 2-metre distance has to be kept between two students, more exam centres have been arranged to comply with the guidelines.

Each exam centre has also been equipped with sanitizer dispensers to wash hands before and after the exam.

Students who shifted to their home town during the prolonged lockdown have been allowed to write exams from the nearest centre, where they are staying.

“All arrangements have been made for the safe conduct of the exams,” said Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar said after reviewing the preparedness with officials through video conferencing on late Wednesday.

He urged parents to send their wards to the exam centres without any worry.

Sudhakar, a medical doctor by profession, urged parents to send their wards to the exam without worry as all precautions have been taken to ensure not even a student would be infected by the corona virus.

“The entire country is looking at Karnataka’s decision to conduct the SSLC exams despite rising Covid cases in the state. Hence, this should be taken as a challenge to conduct them carefully,” asserted Sudhakar.

Directing the officials to strictly follow the guidelines, the minister said it was their collective responsibility to ensure every student was safe from the moment he or she leaves home to the exam centre and returned after the exam.

“Vehicles ferrying students where public transport is not available, surroundings near exam centres, exam halls and toilets must be sanitised,” reiterated the minister.

As there are 458 containment zones across Bengaluru, the minister directed the officials to take any student found ill to the nearest health centre.

State Education Minister S. Suresh Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary Javed Akhtar and senior officials of the concerned departments participated in the meeting.