Repeated exam deferrals and botched administrative procedures are stumbling blocks
While the pandemic has disrupted the education process for many, the contagion has proved particularly bad for students in the Maharashtra hinterland. For these students, originally from the state mofussil and studying in Pune where the cost of living is usually prohibitive, getting a civil service job is seen as a panacea for financial stress at home.
However, a number of pandemic-induced decisions by the Maharashtra government like the repeated postponements of the Maharashtra Civil Service Commission (MPSC) – no less than five times in the past 18 months before finally being organized –And the abrupt postponement of examinations to fill long-standing vacancies in the state’s medical department have pushed students to the brink of collapse.
âMore than 60% of students in the hinterland of Maharashtra continue their higher education and prepare for competitions at educational institutions in Pune district. As a rule, it is the sons and daughters of small farmers who have mortgaged their land holdings and have staked everything on the education of their children and the hope of a job, especially a government job â, observes the student leader Kuldeep. Ambekar, president of Student Helping Hand, a group of volunteers. which helps students from these regions.
Mr Ambekar, who has been at the forefront of a number of student-related issues, said a host of concerns – from broken promises of exam fee waivers to botched government decisions – worsened conditions for students from rural Maharashtra.
Host of worries
âThese students bet everything on the success of the MPSC exam. Yet the government has repeatedly postponed it due to concerns about the pandemic. The point is, if the UPSC reviews, being organized on a much larger scale, have gone smoothly, why has the government of Maharashtra not been able to conduct the MPSC so far, âasks he does.
At least 15,000 positions are vacant in various state government departments to date. In March of this year, angry students finally lost patience when the state government announced a new postponement and took to the streets as agitators put up roadblocks in Pune and tore books in despair. Several accused the government of playing with their careers.
In June of this year, the ruling government of Maha Vikas Aghadi received a brutal warning shot after a 24-year-old MPSC contender, who had completed prelims in 2019, ended his life in Pune.
âThe deceased had successfully passed the MPSC preliminaries in 2019, but the pandemic and subsequent delays on the part of the government in planning the maintenance process frustrated him and made him anxious about the growing financial burden. on his family. Few MPs or MPs cared about solving the psychological problems facing MPSC aspirantsâ¦ the endless delays in taking exams and pending recruitments have had a serious effect on the mental health of students, âsays Nilesh Nambalkar de Shrigonda, an MPSC aspirant.
The commission, in a recent notification, set the exam date for January 2, 2022. But given the history of postponements, there is a trust deficit between the government and these students.
Last month, the government announced that examinations for the C and D positions in the state Department of Health were scheduled to take place on September 25 and 26. About 8 lakh students from across the state had to sit for an exam that barely had 6,200 vacancies. Then, the day before, the bad news arrived, the government brutally postponing the examinations because the subcontracted company would not have been able to make the necessary arrangements for its conduct.
âEven before the deadline, students were frustrated due to technical difficulties. Tickets for many candidates have not been issued. And those who were delivered had no given centers in them. In addition, several students, who managed to download their hall tickets, were surprised to find that the first half of their exam had a center in a district and the exam center for the 15 hour test was assigned. in another district. What kind of callous attitude is this on the part of the administration? Asks Dnyaneshwar Vilekar.
Mr Ambekar says a candidate was shocked to discover that his exam center had been assigned to a school in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
Ashwini Pawar, a master’s student in botany at Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, was baffled when she received the ticket from the medical recruiting examination room, only to discover that the first document was in Aurangabad while the Examination center for the 2 pm document was Parbhani District, which is 240 km away.
âI was flabbergasted when I saw my admission ticket. After frantically trying all five helplines to no avail, I finally reached out to friends in Pune in desperation who, too, were equally helpless. This is not the first time that such chaos has taken place. Even after such reviews, a huge opacity remains in all processes, âexplains Ms. Pawar.
Since the students are already under considerable stress, such problems only increase the tension, complain the students.
Struggle to survive
âSometimes we think the government, regardless of which party is leading it, is just playing with our careers. We have no financial support and we are struggling to keep up with the incessant and rising costs, âsays Vishal Dabhade, a B.Sc. Chemistry student at Fergusson College from rural Jalna.
He lost his father during the pandemic. Trapped in Pune during confinement, Mr. Vishal, unable to return to his ancestral village, found himself caught between a rock and a hard place. âI worked as a library coordinator, and the meager proceeds from that work helped me cover my living expenses,â he says.
Mr Ambekar believes that whenever it comes to solving the problems of students, especially those on the margins, policy makers – be they from any political party – are “paralyzed”.
âThe current scenario offers bleak prospects for students in rural areas. Getting a job in the government by passing exams like the MPSC seems like an illusion now. Only a radical change in government attitude coupled with basic administrative efficiency can help save the day, âhe said.