SC Directs NIOS to Allot Exam Centres At ‘Reasonable Distance’ to Prevent School Dropout

The Supreme Court has directed the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) to fix examination centres in a manner that helps students appear in the exam with certainty and ease. The court has made the observation while disposing a writ petition filed by Pragya Higher Secondary School. It had sought direction from NIOS to fix exam centres for the open school students appearing for public exams within a reasonable distance from their study centres.

“It is for NIOS to go an extra mile rather than expecting the students to walk long distances from villages and towns to take the examination”, the bench said comprising of Justices S Abdul Nazeer and PS Narasimha observed, reported Live Law. The apex court also sought direction to NIOS to create a policy of distance criteria while fixing the exam centres for the public exam conducted by it.

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The school, in its petition claimed that despite having NIOS education centre or other recognized institution within a maximum distance of 10 kilometers from the study centres, the students have to travel to an exam centre which might be far away. To which, the court observed that the need for holding an exam within 10 kilometers sounds reasonable.

“It is documented that a substantial number of students resorting to open schooling invariably come from rural areas. Most of these students come from poor strata of the society, depend on unreliable public transport and in all probability are employed for their livelihood. It is not difficult to imagine the consequences of inaccessible examination centres for such students. There is yet another factor,” the court said.

It further added that students have to answer multiple papers spread over a period of time during an exam and inability to travel long distances for each exam might result in student drop out. The top court also highlighted that the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 features the beneficial effect of reducing the burden of distance to prevent student drop outs from schools through group walks, provision of cycles and other for underprivileged students.

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It added that integrity in the conduct of examination is as important as the education itself. SC has thus directed NIOS to fix the exam centres within a distance of 10 kilometers from the study centres or Accredited Institutions while taking into account the credibility of the exam centre to ensure fair and smooth exam is conducted.

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