At a time when toppers are enjoying the limelight, some of their classmates who did not clear the board examinations are busy with the application process for the supplementary examinations.

Sources in the Directorate of Government Examinations said that last year about 1.5 lakh students, including private candidates, applied for the supplementary examinations.

According to some teachers, schools do not offer much help to students taking the supplementary examinations. “Most schools are worried about their pass percentage. They do not care much about how the students who do not pass proceed after that,” said a School Education department official who did not wish to be named.

Only schools that don't brand students as “failures” take the initiative to help them clear the supplementary examinations.

A few years ago, S. Krishnan did not get much encouragement from his teachers after his results were declared. “My teachers scolded me for failing in three subjects and said I had not studied well enough. I did not even know that I could take supplementary examinations,” said the student, who went to a government-aided school in a southern suburb.

After a few years' gap, he is now trying to find ways to clear the S.S.L.C examinations so that he can find a job. He has no hopes of completing his schooling or joining a college.

All that students like him need is some hand-holding and confidence, says Jayanthi Seeman, principal, Seeman Tutorials. “We find that many students are scared of taking the examinations. They just need to be told that they can do well. Then, we train them to focus on key areas,” she says.

Only students who have not cleared a maximum of three subjects can appear for the supplementary examination. For some students, the improvement in their performance is significant. “We have had students who scored above 180 out of 200 in the supplementary examinations. A lot of times, the difference between success and failure in an examination is not about potential, but about confidence,” Ms. Seeman adds.

Sometimes, subject teachers might take interest and train students on their own. “Schools may not encourage them to do so. Teachers might do it out of concern for students. Students who have such teachers are lucky,” said a head of a school in Nungambakkam.

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Meera SrinivasanJune 28, 2012