The ground+3 building of the Mumbai Division of the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) at the sector 16 in Vashi would probably qualify for the most efficient workplace in the entire MMRDA region, especially these days. The entire staff-160 people counting from chairman to peon-stays in the office from 7 in the morning to as late as midnight for a common goal-smooth conduction of the board exams for more than seven lakh candidates from class 12 and 10.
The heart beats, anxieties and stress level across the board are no less than the candidates considering the sanctity, confidentiality and volume of the exams. The d-day February is 20 only a day ahead. There are 140 different subjects of four streams packed in a amonth's timetable of Higher Secondary Certificate exams for which 3,28,698 candidates of are registered this year.
The question papers are set in the board's Pune office two months ahead of the exams in the extremely confidential manner. From here, they are sent to the printing press at some undisclosed location (this information is extremely confidential) a month before the exam. The question papers and the answersheets are then dispatched in batches to the nine divisions of the MSBSHSE - Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, Latur, Amravati, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Aurangabad and Konkan.
The division board chalks out the entire road map of the exam which includes "custodian centres", sub-centres and main centres (lead centres which coordinate between the board and sub-centres and supposed to manage in case of a crisis if any) along with the number of candiadates per centre with the details of the subjects taken by them.
Two-three days before the start of the exams, the division board starts sending the bundles of these extremely sensitive papers to "custodian centres" spread across Mumbai, Thane and Raigad. Over 22 lakh answersheets (each has 28 pages) with three supplementary sheets and equal number of question papers in sealed packets are being dispatched this year to 65 custodian centres-they call them as 65 routes-many of them fall in remote tribal areas as well.
All is done under tight police security-one armed-policeman, one officer from the board office and two peons accompany each truck till it reaches the custodian centre. While this teams come back to baord office to ensure the safer delivery of the material to other centres, another armed-policeman and an official of state education department posted in that area take the charge of security of the custodian centre. Their mandate-zero error.
Cchairman of the board's Mumbai division, Lakshmikant Pande, who personally supervises loading and movement of trucks from 9-11 am, says, "A custodian centre is usually a bigger school which provides us two spare rooms to store these papers. These centres are asked to handle 3-4 schools in a 10 km vicinity. They are given the responsibility to send answersheets and question papers safely to these 3-4 schools on the day of the exam."
The bundles from the custodian centres are dispatched to the exam centres 2-4 hour prior to the commencement of the exam depending upon the distance.
The custodian-the principal of that school-also takes the responsibility to appoint supervisors for the exam the process which starts as early as November. More than 13,000 supervisors have been appointed for the HSC exam. And then there will be 34 flying squads to nab cheaters during the exam.
After the exam, bundles of answersheets are put in sealed envelopes and brought to custodian centres under tight security and confidentiality, mixed up and then sent to assessment centres spread across the region.