GRACE OR DISGRACE? ORISSA STUDENTS MARRED IN MATHS; MINISTER ESCAPES

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Mathematics is not a compulsory subject. It is an optional subject in Higher Secondary Education, marked as +2 education in Orissa. The state government under an apparatus called Council of Higher Secondary Education (hereinafter called the Council) directly controls it.

Being an optional subject, usually the better students with greater IQ and higher marks obtained in High School level opt for and are allowed though selection to take admission in +2 with Mathematics as a subject.

It is therefore clear that students who have established their worth in mathematics in the High School level take admission in this subject in +2 level.

But the Council under continuous control of a lingua-Benga Minister has gone such astray that most of the students in +2 Science and Arts have failed in Mathematics to the extent of forfeiting their career plans.

Under this minister higher education in the state has suffered irreparable damages.

Students, who in High Schools had excelled in Mathematics on the basis of which they were allowed admission in +2 with this subject, have been reduced to such a level of confusion by the Council that majority of them has failed to obtain even the pass mark.

The lingua-Benga minister in charge of higher education, admitting that the questions were framed beyond the courses of study, has declared to grant grace marks to the failed students to overcome the debacle.

If anything, it makes two things clear.

One, the Council has failed to help students in their pursuit in Mathematics, which in their school days had inspired them; and Two, while stymieing students’ urge to surge ahead in the subject by imposing a restrictive courses of study, question-setters were so appointed as to frame questions from beyond that restrictive framework in order to put Orissa students in severe jeopardy.

To understand the second phenomenon one is to understand that +2 is the turning point in a student’s life. From here, he or she enters into professional or honors courses and eventually proceeds for specialization / super-specialization.

If academic life is blurred at this level, his or her entire career dreams get shattered. This is what exactly has happened to Orissa’s students this year.

All of the students, who have suffered the setback, were students of Mathematics, who had opted for and got selected for admission into this subject because of the fact that they had excelled in this subject in High School examination and were of higher IQ to pursue this subject.

So, by creating a climate for failure of these students in mathematics and compelling them to pass with a bare pass-mark with the offending “grace marks”, the Council under the lingua-Benga minister has played havoc with Orissa’s students of higher IQ in their most important juncture of life.

If any student now passes with the grace marks, his or her entire future will be a phase of disgrace, because, the bare pass marks in the subject would at no point of time be considered as a mark of distinguished career.

It is shuddering to think of what damage the Council has done to our brilliant students by appointing question-setters who either had no knowledge on its courses of studies or had agreed to set questions beyond its courses of studies so that future plans of Oriya students of higher IQ would get shattered.

In the past many lingua-Bengas had contrived and played many mischievous tricks against Orissa. This particular lingua-Benga minister had also contrived a conspiracy to obliterate Oriya language as a subject in Colleges of Orissa.

So, it cannot be said for sure that in the Mathematics debacle there is no deliberate design to obstruct indigenous bright students of Orissa from entering into major areas of their choice in higher education.

If the question-setters framed wrong questions, beyond the Council’s courses of study, why the Council did not disapprove the same? Why the Council did not frame the correct questions? Why the minister has not taken exemplary actions against the Council officials who had appointed question-setters sans knowledge on its courses of study or had approved wrong questions to be used like bolts from the blue against the bright students of Orissa?

Even as he has no answers to these questions, he has tried to escape by covering up the crime against the students as well as against their soil by unilateral addition of “grace” marks to the marks they had obtained.

The so-called “grace” is a disgrace in as much as it will never help the students pursue their career plans.

What can be done now?

Two things can be done:

One, admittedly the students have suffered due to question setting from beyond the courses of study. Therefore, they should not be disgraced by “grace marks”. The Council should recognize their right to maximum number of marks and give them all at least 50 marks each over and above the marks they have obtained so as to stand with them in fulfillment of their respective career plans and this should be done immediately;

Two, the lingua-Benga minister should be dropped or divested of the higher education portfolio forthwith so that he no more remains capable of further playing havoc with Oriya students’ career.

Chief Minister Navin Patnaik may prove his worth on taking these two steps.

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