BHUBANESWAR: Days after the state government announced to waive examination and tuition fees of students in flood-affected districts, the Council of Higher Secondary Education (CHSE), Orissa, announced on Saturday to hike Plus II examination fees by Rs 15 per student. The move sparked wide resentment from students.
On October 2, the government had decided to waive examination fees of Class X and XII students in all the 21 flood-hit districts and not to collect tuition fees of students who were yet to pay. However, the CHSE has decided to increase the examination fees from Rs 150 to Rs 165 for all Class XII students in the state now.
"We are yet to receive any communique from the government about the fee waiver," said CHSE controller of examination Jasobanta Behera, when asked about the hike. He said the council increased the fees "nominally" to meet the differential charges in bringing more transparency in the examination system.
Contrary to the prevalent practice of sending answer sheets from examination centres to evaluation centres, CHSE would henceforth send answer sheets to four identified receiving zones of Sambalpur, Balasore, Berhampur and Bhubaneswar. The receiving zones would send the papers to the evaluation centres through a random pick and choose process. This would mean principals would not be able to figure out the evaluation centres of their colleges. "Earlier, we have instances of principals trying to influence the evaluation centres. The new step will eliminate that chance," Behera said. The process of sending answer sheets via receiving zones would mean an extra cost of around Rs 40 lakh in transit, warranting the fee hike, he said.
On an average, about 2.5 lakh students appear for the Plus II examination in science, arts, commerce and vocational streams in regular and ex-regular categories annually. Going by this data, at the rate of Rs 165 per student, the examination fee is expected to generate a revenue of about Rs 4 crore. The council spends around Rs 2 crore in conducting the examinations.
Student organizations have slammed the fee hike. "It has exposed the double standards in the functioning of the government. The fee hike decision came as a rude shock for students, especially in flood-affected areas. We will protest the move," said Ashok Mishra, president of All India Democratic Students Organisation (AIDSO), Orissa. AIDSO had recently staged a demonstration, seeking complete fee waiver for Class X, XII and Plus III students in flood-affected districts, besides a financial package for the students.