Karnataka SSLC exams: 99.64% turnout on first day amid Covid-19 fears, students find combined paper easy

Held in a revised format this year, students attended a combined exam with questions from core subjects (Mathematics, Science, Social Science) together on Monday. For the first time, SSLC students were exposed towards answering multiple-choice questions on OMR sheets.

As the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC equivalent to Class 10) exams began in Karnataka amid coronavirus fears on Monday, as much as 99.64 per cent of the total candidates enrolled for the same attended the exams.

“Among fresh (first-time attendees) candidates, 7,81,530 of the total 7,83,882 students attended the SSLC examination on Monday indicating an encouraging trend,” Primary and Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar said.

The attendance on the first day of the SSLC exams last year, also held amid the pandemic, was 98.3 per cent.

Meanwhile, officials were seen complying with all Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and guidelines put forth by the health department in the wake of the Covid-19 situation. All centres visited by The Indian Express in Bengaluru witnessed the presence of Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers, police personnel, volunteers from scouts and guides and representatives from a few NGOs ensuring norms were followed and candidates were assisted.

“While each student was subjected to thermal screening, we were told to keep note of those with symptoms in a bid to redirect them to a dedicated room set aside for candidates who were unwell. Fortunately, none of the 111 students who attended the exam here reported any such issue,” Shwetha, an ASHA worker at a government school in Sheshadripuram, said.

Meanwhile, Chandrasekhar R, a police officer deployed outside an exam centre in Malleshwaram, said, “Parents and guardians of candidates who had come to drop off their wards were asked not to stay around for a longer time. While announcements were made via loudspeakers reminding them of the same, they cooperated well as we could ensure hassle-free entry to candidates and exam officials.”

At the same time, Radhakrishna K, who was part of GiveBack, a voluntary campaign, said Covid-safety kits were distributed to everyone entering selected centres in the city. “A pair of N-95 masks and sanitiser pens were distributed to all candidates and staff. It is encouraging to see the government taking a good step forward to enable exams in a safe and sound environment even amid the pandemic. Students were seen seemingly confident and happy to write the exams,” he said.

Corroborating the same, Mohammed Asif Khan, a student said after the exam, “We have been preparing mentally to write the exams from January itself but were worried that the exams would get cancelled. Even as CBSE and other board exams got called off, my friends and I were hopeful of writing the exams to score good marks instead of getting an aggregate score from previous years.”

Held in a revised format this year, students attended a combined exam with questions from core subjects (Mathematics, Science, Social Science) together on Monday. For the first time, SSLC students were exposed towards answering multiple-choice questions on OMR sheets.

Khan added that the paper was easy to complete even though there were questions from three different subjects. “Most students in my class could complete answering the paper much ahead of time. All of us left the hall with a smile, confident of scoring good grades,” he said moments after giving a high-five to his father, who was waiting outside the examination hall in Vidya Vaibhav Public School in Bengaluru’s Mathikere.

Meanwhile, Nagaraj S R, a social science teacher at Adarsha High School in the city, said students were offered special training sessions on how to answer on OMR sheets as the format was novel to most of them. “To ensure our students get ample revision of the portions we taught them, they were turned into different groups of 10 each that enabled us to give individual attention to most of them using WhatsApp groups and other online modes that were accessible to all,” he explained.

The second and final SSLC exam is scheduled to be held on Thursday from 10.30 am to 1.30 pm.

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