The Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE), which organises examinations for class 10 and 12 for more than 25 lakh students each year is struggling to make ends meet as the board awaits the state government's approval to to hike the examination fee annually.
2008 was the last time that the examination fee of Rs 325/- which forms the primary source of income was revised. The board does not receive grants or financial aids from the state government as it is an autonomous body.
A source said, "Due to the rising costs of conducting examinations and operations, the state board is running out of its fixed deposits. Over 70 per cent of the deposits have been used up. The board is struggling to pay its own employees and, hence, is not filling vacant posts. At the Mumbai division alone, 49 posts are lying vacant."
The state board is also adopting online process. This move calls for additional funds. But, the board says that it has enough funds to function, however, it has asked for a revision in the examination fee in 2013. Gangadhar Mamane, chairperson of the board said, "We collect the fees only twice a year - once for the March exam and once in October. So it is best that we create fixed deposits of the amount. It is these fixed deposits that we are using and haven't run out of yet."
Mamane said commenting on the vacancies in the state board that, "Every year, people either retire or leave, but we are recruiting them as prescribed. Work is not affected as we outsource it when required."
The source said, "The state has given the board autonomy but it has no power to make any decisions. Even academic demands need approvals from the state. The board cannot even on its own increase the exam fees."
Mamane said, that the request to revise the examination fee annually by 5 to 10 percent is with the state and work is in progress. "We are expecting it to come through soon," he said.
On the other hand, teachers have raised concerns over the depleting resources in the state. Anil Deshmukh, secretary, Maharashtra State Federation of Junior College Teachers' Organisation (MSFJCTO) said, "Every time we demand an increase in the rates for assessment or invigilation, we are told that the state board has no money. If our demands are not met, we will begin an agitation."
Presently, Rs 3.50/- per paper they assess is being paid to the teachers on an average and Rs 25/- for each day of invigilation.
MSFJCTO had threatened to ban the examinations and evaluations of paper if their demands regarding better pay scales and immediate appointments to fill vacant posts are not met.