Over 8.40 lakh students appeared for the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) exam in Karnataka on Thursday, with COVID-19 measures like one student per bench and cap on their number per classroom being enforced by the authorities.
The government had decided to conduct the examination ignoring the opposition’s appeal to put them on hold till the coronavirus is brought under total control. Former Chief Minister and JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy had cautioned the government against conducting the exam, claiming there was community spread of Coronavirus.
Chief minister BS Yeddyurappa said on Thursday there was no connection between the lockdown and the SSLC exams, adding they would go on as per schedule. Earlier, the Karnataka Secondary Education Examination Board (KSEEB), on the directions of the state government decided to conduct the SSLC or the Class X board exams amid COVID-19 fears.
According to KSEEB officials, as many as 8,48,203 students would take up the examination at 2,879 exam centres. Taking lessons from the pre-university college exam on June 18 where people thronged the examination centres ignoring social distancing norms, KSEEB officials in association with the health, police and transport departments made adequate arrangements inside and outside the examination halls today.
The Board also roped in the Scouts and Guides at some places to make proper arrangements. At all the examination centres students were thermally screened and their hands sanitised before being allowed inside. As per government instructions, each bench had only one student. There were standing instructions that there should not be more than 18 to 20 students in each class.
The students were allowed to travel free of cost in government buses or those hired by the department to reach the examination centres. Arrangements had been made for free transportation of students from the Kerala border to Sullia in Dakshina Kannada district for Kannada students in Kasargod in the neighbouring state.
Yediyurappa wished the students appearing for the examination good luck. In a message, he said they should write the exam without any fear and appealed to them to wear masks, use hand sanitisers and maintain social distancing. Speaking to reporters, he said the government has made all necessary arrangements required for the examination.
The chief minister said there was no connection between the lockdown and the SSLC exams, adding they would go on as per schedule. State Primary and Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar visited many schools to inspect the arrangements made and spoke to the teachers deployed there. He said adequate arrangements have been made at the examination centres and that there was no need for people to be afraid.
He said at a few places some glitches had surfaced which were resolved. In a tweet later, he said, “my deep gratitude to parents for their faith in the government, and heartfelt thanks to teaching and other govt staff members, police for their tireless work & dedication.” “Children will fondly remember their care for a long time to come @CMofKarnataka,” he added.
The exams were originally scheduled from March 27 but were put on hold for an indefinite period due to the coronavirus induced lockdown then. While neighbouring states like Telangana and Tamil Nadu gave students general promotion, the Karnataka government said the exams cannot be avoided because it is a turning point in the academic career of children as they choose their stream based on the exam results. The exams will go on till July 4.