The erstwhile Chittoor district, with parts of Tirupati and Annamayya districts, stood fourth in the State with a pass percentage of 74.22 in the in the SSC examinations of 2022. The result was one of the lowest in the district in the last one and half decades.
Officials of the Education Department opine that the rural areas of the district badly lagged in performance, while the urban pockets fared considerably well. With over 25% of the students failing the examination, the blame game has begun with officials and parents blaming the other for the poor results, while the COVID years 2020-22 turned the bone of contention.
The then Madanapalle revenue division (now with Annamayya district) with majority of schools in rural areas registered a pass percentage of 65.08, the lowest ever in two decades, while Chittoor and Tirupati revenue divisions fared well with a success rate above 75%.
District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) Principal and District Education Officer Shriram Purushottam squarely put the blame for the poor results on the parents, particularly in the rural areas, for not taking care of their children.
“Despite the COVID pandemic, we regularly conducted online classes in 2020 and 2021. Many parents and students ignored our efforts and looked forward to the ‘COVID Pass’ in 2022 also. We received clear instructions from the higher authorities to thoroughly streamline the procedures and conduct the examinations with all seriousness. For the last year, we stepped up our efforts and conducted the classes with double the seriousness this year. It is the psyche of the parents and students which remained the same as it was in 2020 and 2021,” he said.
The official also brushed aside allegations of parents and students that the government had resorted to “strict evaluation” to cut down the burden on the Amma Vodi scheme. “In fact, the evaluation of answer papers should be strict if we want to pump in more colour and life into the future of the students. Now, the students of the ‘COVID Pass’ category are a worried lot, finding it tough to cope with their Intermediate studies. If they can’t overcome their academic drawbacks, the impact would continue to haunt them even in their higher studies. We have finished all formalities and initiated remedial measures for the instant examination. However, we will not leave the teachers to go unpunished if their negligence was found in the inquires,” Mr. Purushottam said.
A senior headmaster of a ZP High School KVB Puram mandal, who was supposed to retire on June 30 but for the two-year extension period, deplored that during the COVID pandemic years, 90% of the students (then in 8th and 9th classes) totally neglected the studies at home. “Their prime concentration was diverted towards watching movies on TV and entertainment on mobile phones. Several parents had complained to us to check the behaviour of their children, and warned them from time to time. But, a teacher or headmaster can’t control the students outside the school compound. The tender minds banked heavily on ‘COVID Pass’ once more in 2022, after the impact of the Omicron wave till February end this year,” the headmaster said.
A parent from Chandragiri mandal deplored that his son had failed in all subjects. “Whom should I blame? I can neither blame the teachers nor myself, nor my son. I had also arranged tuition for him from January till the examinations were over. I was told that over 170 students in erstwhile Chittoor district failed in all subjects to share the fate of my son,” he deplored.