Sanath Kumar was a student of the direct Secondary School Certificate (SSC) open, distance learning course, Class X/10, conducted by the Telangana Open School Society (TOSS) in the academic year, 2021-22.
When Sanath Kumar came to meet us in January 2022, he was dressed stylishly – ironed trousers, shirt tucked in, a tie and gleaming black shoes. He looked at least 45 years old and seemed to have the air of a veteran in marketing. Could be a marketing manager, we thought. He had called us and said that he was interested in doing the open school SSC course conducted by the Telangana Open School Society.
‘Good morning, Sirs,’ he greeted us cheerfully. ‘I am happy to have got the information about the Telangana Open School direct SSC course. It has been my dream for the last 35 years to complete my SSC and Intermediate, and then get at least a Bachelor’s degree. I learned about open schools through a friend. Searching through Google for open schools, I was delighted to discover my own state, Telangana, has an open school for Class 10 and Class 12 for people like me who could not go to formal schools.’
We were happy to note his fluency in English.
‘You speak good English for someone who has not finished even 10th,’ I told him.
‘I learned English on my own, attending some Spoken English classes,’ said Sanath Kumar.
‘I am 50 years old,’ he declared proudly. But to me, age is just a number. My spirit is strong and I want to achieve my ambition of getting at least a Bachelor’s degree. My dream is to do an MBA but let me cross one hurdle at a time.’
‘I hope there is no upper age limit for doing the Telangana Open School SSC course?’ he asked.
‘There is no upper age limit for doing the Telangana Open School direct SSC course,’ we informed him. ‘But, the Telangana Open School Society has specified a minimum age limit of 14 years, that is, you cannot appear for the TOSS SSC exam if you are below 14 years when you submit the application form to join the course.’
‘Have you attended school?’ we asked him.
‘I was in a school in Patancheru, I think I studied up to Class 6 or Class 7, am not very sure. But I hope I can do this Telangana Open School SSC even if I have no records of having attended school’, answered Sanath Kumar, looking a little bit anxious.
‘No problem,’ we assured him, ‘you can do the Telangana Open School SSC because this open and distance learning course is designed especially for people like you who have missed the chance of doing SSC through a formal school. All you need is a proper proof of age like a birth certificate.’
‘How many subjects do I have to take in the TOSS direct SSC course?’ Sanath asked.
‘You have two groups of subjects, Group A and Group B, from which you have to choose a minimum of five subjects and appear for the TOSS SSC exams in the chosen subjects. Two subjects from Group A and three subjects from Group B,’ we told Sanath. ‘Group A of the TOSS direct SSC course has languages – Hindi, English, Marathi, Telugu, Urdu, Kannada, Tamil. Group B of the TOSS direct SSC course has other subjects – Maths, Science and Technology, Social Studies, Economics, Business Studies, Home Science, Psychology, Indian Culture and Heritage.’
For the five subjects in which he would appear in the SSC exams conducted in May 2022 by the Telangana Open School Society, Sanath chose English and Telugu from Group A. From Group B, he chose Mathematics, Science & Technology, Social Studies.
‘What about the validity and recognition of the SSC certificate given by the Telangana Open School Society?’ Sanath asked.
‘The SSC certificate is valid and recognised as equivalent to the SSC certificate given by any Board of Secondary Education in India, as per state and central government orders,’ we informed him.
‘Excellent. Then I’m going ahead with applying for the Telangana Open School direct SSC course. Do I have to fill in my details in an application form?’ he asked.
‘Not necessary. The application form is online on the website of the Telangana Open School Society and all your details have to be submitted in the online form. Your passport-size photograph, your signature, and your birth certificate have to be scanned and uploaded along with the application form,’ we conveyed to him.
‘Oh, I do not have a computer at home,’ Sanath remarked. He looked at the computer on my table and asked, ‘I will give you my details on paper and share copies of my photo and birth certificate. Can you take care of the submission of my application form online?’
‘Sure, we will be happy to assist you in submitting your application form online for the TOSS SSC course. You need to choose a study center where you will be attending the 30 Personal Contact Programme (PCP) classes organized for learners. Teachers will help and guide you if you have any difficulties in understanding the study material provided to you,’ we told Sanath.
‘Oh, I have to attend classes, too,’ Sanath looked a bit surprised. ‘I don’t know if I can find the time for attending classes. I am a manager in a retail store. I work 10-12 hour a day, six days a week.’
‘For the convenience of learners, these contact classes are generally organized on Saturdays and Sundays,’ we assured him. ‘You will also have to submit 3 Tutor Marked Assignments (TMAs) in each subject. You will not be allowed to appear for the TOSS SSC Public Exam in May, if you do not submit all the three assignments in each subject.’
‘Oh, so the Telangana Open School Society wants students of its distance education SSC course to study well to appear for their direct SSC exam. Good, it will make me more disciplined in my preparation for the TOSS SSC exams,’ Sanath looked thoughtful.
We helped Sanath apply online for the distance learning, direct SSC course of the Telangana Open School Society. He attended the PCP contact classes at his study centre and submitted his 3 Tutor Marked Assignments in each of the five subjects.
He appeared for the Telangana Open School Society’s SSC public exam conducted in May 2022. The results were released on 21 July 2022.
‘Sirji, I have passed the SSC exam,’ Sanath called cheerfully over the phone. ‘At the age of 50, I have taken the first step towards doing my MBA – I have cleared the SSC exam and now with the Telangana Open School Society’s SSC certificate, I am going to apply for the TOSS Intermediate course of this academic year, 2022-23, pass the TOSS Intermediate public exams in May 2023, and apply for a bachelor’s degree course next year. Thank you so much for patiently advising and guiding me throughout the year to help me complete and pass the Telangana Open School Society’s open, distance learning SSC course.’