[AI] Guidelines for exams

deena nath derup122 at yahoo.com
Tue Feb 12 10:15:23 EST 2008

To respond to the request from Ms. Kanchan Pamnani in 'Access India' on 8 Feb 2008, I would like to submit as follows:
  A totally sightless person myself, I have been working for Punjab National Bank for 22 years or so.  I along with my other fellow visually disabled employees in the Bank had been facing until 2006, a common problem at the Examination Centre whenever each of us appeared for the Promotion Test.  These problems included:
  Nowhere on the Notice Board at the Examination Centre were our Roll numbers ever written/displayed, thus, keeping us in a chaotic and confused situation that simply forced us to do nothing but stand and wait for someone to tell us which room had been arranged or where to go and report.
  Though the number, the names and the chosen medium of writing papers of the visually disabled candidates appearing for the Test had been well known to the Bank in advance, the arrangement of the room and the availability of the scribe had been made at random in a shabby/perfunctory manner, just 5-10 minutes before the paper would start.  While our sighted counter-parts well began writing their answers, we only start filling up our personal relevant details in the answer sheet.
  Most of the time, we landed up getting a scribe inconsistent with the requirements coupled with late sitting, late supply of the Information Booklet, late distribution of answer sheet and non-availability of knowledgeable/responsible person at the relevant time for clarifications in case of need, simply delayed, disrupted and slowed down the process of filling up the applicable personal details and that of commencement, pace and completion of writing the Test itself.  
  A great deal of time, that way, went already wasted/lost by the time we settled down for writing our papers.
  No time could we ever get for necessary familiarity and interaction with and, understanding of the scribe in terms of genuine expectations and requirements, say, his/her medium, fluency, adequate knowledge of what to tick where, etc.
  Frustratingly, English medium candidate got Hindi medium scribe and the Hindi medium candidate got English medium scribe.
  Also, we were seated in the hurriedly arranged room mostly not orderly -making some of us seated at the entrance of the room, too noisy particularly during extra hour, no fan, no generator back up, Late distribution of question paper and answer sheets, The responsible person coming and going, not timely guiding what to fill etc.
  Personally speaking, for reasons yet to be ascertained, the scribe assistance provided to me in the August 13 2006 was a mere formality and mockery of the arrangement.  The scribe of the quality and standard as made available to me, was so bad and inadequate that profoundly disadvantaged me and terribly interfered with my ability to comprehend and attempt the entire question paper for reasons of his weaknesses and inadequacies (inability to speak and read even common/simple English words like: “mention” and sentences in the question papers clearly, correctly, coherently and intelligibly).  I doubt whether I would have gone through even 40 questions.  I would have certainly gone much faster and attempted many more questions had I been provided a scribe of medium of my choice who could speak and read the questions fluently, clearly, correctly coherently and intelligibly.  The question had to be repeated again and again, owing to my inability to follow him.  I had to simply
 guess and sense what word it could be. As a result of that, I lost much of my time in guessing the possibility of the words and phrases misread/misspoken rather than finding out the correct answer.
  Attention of the Bank Authorities was drawn to the occurrences and irregularities and, when they ignored my submissions, the matter was referred to the Office of Commission for Persons with Disabilities whereupon the Bank responded as follows:
 The scribe was provided to him through the Chief Test Administrator as per Head Office guidelines. However his concern about the conduct of the exam has been noted and next time better arrangement shall be made for candidates including blind candidates.”
  The issue dragged on for a year with prolonged silence on the part of the Bank.  Much of the happenings as narrated to them pertaining to the infrastructure and arrangements were tacitly acknowledged though the question of providing a quality and standard scribe was put on the back burner with no clear-cut commitment.  For the time being, the matters stands resolved with assurance from the Bank that my suggestions have been noted for consideration.  I had submitted to the Commission as follows:
  Our Roll numbers and the room(s) should be displayed on the Notice Board at the Centre as is always done in case of the sighted candidates.  This will save everyone’s time, help us to reach the allotted room and take our respective seats well in time and allow us a little time to check anything going/gone wrong, report the same to the concerned and seek remedy thereof.
  The scribe(s) should report for his/her duties half-an-hour before the paper to start in the room arranged for us so that we could get in touch with the named scribe, confirm all the applicable aspects, seek correction if needed and, begin our business well in time if everything is fine.
  A separate and exclusive invigilator/supervisor should be provided for our room with additional responsibility to ensure timely supply of relevant men and materials, timely commencement of the process corrections and clarifications in case of need. 
  The most sticky and contentious issue is that of a Quality and standard scribe.  The purpose of a scribe assistance/facility is to get informed of all the visual aspects and getting the same handled properly and timely, getting all the instructions, questions and the choices read fluently, quickly, correctly, clearly and coherently enough in the chosen medium/language of the candidate to enable him/her to understand, choose and act upon the right choices as well as to move fast enough without unnecessary/avoidable obstructions.  It seems, the Bank simply picks up on predetermined quantum of payment basis, the number of persons equal to that of the appearing visually disabled candidates to act as their scribe from the same school where it holds the examination, without ever applying any mind as to the essential attributes and aptitude of the scribe –medium, fluency, clarity, understanding of what to fill up, where and in which technical terms and manner.  Who gets which
 scribe and of which medium at the Examination Centre, is purely a matter of chance and coincidence.  
  If the bank cannot make proper selection of the scribe, it should leave to the appearing candidates themselves to arrange one with full approval of the same by the Bank.  The Bank can check all the credentials and qualifications of the scribe arranged by the appearing candidate.  
  If the Bank insists upon the Bank’s-Provided-Scribe-System, it can do so providing for as follows:
  The name and the medium of the scribe of each candidate should be made known to the appearing candidate in advance preferably, at the same time as the Information regarding Roll number and the Centre is supplied so as to enable him/her to take up the matter with the Office/Officer concerned in event of any error(s) or inconsistencies (Name and the medium not mentioned or the medium of the mentioned scribe different from the appearing candidate’s stated one.  It need not inform of his/her other identities, say, School/college, residence, telephone number and the like.  Such a provision will help us to immediately look for our respective scribes.  This will help to remedy any situation arising out of mismatch, say, the scribes getting inadvertently/erroneously interchanged and so on.  
  It should be ensured that the scribe arranged by the Bank is candidate-stated-medium-specific, generally and reasonably fast, fluent, clear and conversant with all the visual parts/technical aspects of the paper –where to fill up which detail, where and in which technical/artistic fashion, whom to contact for clarification in case of confusion, in how much low/loud voice to read/speak, etc.
  Even with these suggested inclusions, ultimately and fundamentally, the Arrangement in question remains the same.  We cannot be sure and certain of sincerity, competence, obedience and faithfulness of such a scribe as picked up at random whose identity, credentials and characteristics (qualification, general patience, fluency, manner of speaking, communicativeness, attentiveness, responsiveness and understanding/familiarity with the relevant requirements of the task) are neither known nor knowable.    Since it is the Bank that invites, accepts and pays him/her, he/she is likely to go by any advice, act in any prescribed manner and play on any tune called for by the Bank.                                                                                                                 If nothing else, this will give us in course of the Test and thereafter, at least, an immediate psychological feeling that there are/were no forced/imposed obvious unnecessary hurdles though
 failing or passing any Test will be ultimately, in the hands of the Bank.  
  One of the reasons why the Bank seems to have been reluctant/resistant to the idea of candidate-arranged-scribe is the Bank’s perception and suspicion that the so-arranged scribe may be better than and superior to, or, of the same standard as that of the candidate, hence, he/she would solve much of the paper on his/her own.  It may happen only if the self arranged scribe is a close relative/friend of the candidate, competing for the same or similar goal at the same time with the same intensity of endeavours as the candidate concerned.  That is quite unlikely and can be easily checked.
  In theory and principle, I agree and advocate that the scribe should not be a banker or in qualification, equal to or, higher than the appearing candidate.  However, such a view makes sense only in case where the candidate in need of scribe is appearing for a particular paper/subject.  It does not hold much good in case of appearing for a general competition.  The concept and the principle of the scribe to be less qualified than the requirements of the post in general for which, the visually disable employee appears, is flawed and capable of causing serious hurdles to the candidates.  
  With regards,
  Deena Nath,
  Mob: 9868076288 9891873466 

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