By Rimli Bhattacharya
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is back in news for leaking the Mathematics paper for standard ten and Economics for standard twelve. It was in news several years back, too, when I sat for my Class 12 exams. The papers pertaining to science stream – Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics – were leaked. What we got as a gift from the board was multiple choice question papers. Our sitting arrangements were like those of prisoners in a dining room under the supervision of jailors. Additional invigilators were called to add to the already existing team of supervisors. The only missing thing was the CCTV (Close Circuit Television) cameras to monitor us.
I am stunned and equally vexed to read the news of this scam. The news said re-examination will be conducted across the country for Class 10 Mathematics and Class 12 Economics, CBSE Board. The union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar has set up an inquiry committee and the board merely said that this is being done to “uphold the sanctity of the board examination and in the interest of fairness to students…taking cognizance of certain happenings in the conduct of examinations.”
We don’t know who are responsible for leaking these board papers. I would like to cite my own example. During my Class 10 Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) board exams, it was rumored that one of my peers had managed to sneak the question paper and top the list with record marks which our school had never seen in the last four decades. It was also said that he held the fourth position at the national level, while his IQ was that of an average student. There was no concrete proof but we were sure that his parents had managed to bribe the board and got hold of the question papers. However, he could never make a stable career and his record marks now exist only on paper. I switched to the CBSE board while I was in standard eleven and my nightmare came true when I appeared for standard twelve board exams. The papers were leaked.
The report of the leak came as a rude shock when the students were in a cheerful mood to get done with the exams. An online petition on change.org against this re-examination has already been started by some students and their parents. How hard they may try to stop the re-examination, the board will conduct it and the students will have no other choice but to take it.
As an individual, I understand the apprehension of the average students and also the ones who dread Mathematics as this particular subject needs a lot of practice. The students have to go through the grueling task again. As Seema Taneja in the portal Women’s Web says, many of the class 12 students would also be banking upon their Economics marks for college admissions. For them, a drop of even 4-5 marks in the aggregate may mean the end of their hopes of a seat in their dream college. It definitely is a gross injustice that their careers are at stake because of the greed and malice of a few. But this is how it is now. Take it or leave it.
The re-examination is a sheer waste of time, money, and energy. While we are only looking at the trauma of the students and the Indian parents, it is an equally taxing work for the board, the paper setters, and the moderators. It is not an easy job to sit and make a board paper. Scraping the old question papers, answer sheets, and also setting new dates are a herculean task. Calling in new invigilators is again a waste of money. And chances are that during the re-examination the bar might be set much higher than the previous paper, making the lives of the students all the more difficult. Why do the students need to pay for the greed of a few corrupt individuals in the system? How do such leaks happen repeatedly, despite the efforts of the board to stop them? What are the steps taken by the HRD minister to stop this wrongdoing? What is the use of punishing the guilty individuals when our system itself has a loophole? Why not repair the leakage right at the beginning, instead of making the lives of the students and board miserable? This is a systemic failure.
In the Indian context, parents too act like a pressure cooker without a safety valve. Apparently they are the ones, who cause more tension to their children. The parents must realize that it is not the end of the world. In fact, the parents must tell their children that re-examination is no big deal. It is just another brushing up of the texts, which the child has already prepared before the exams. The parents should go out with their child, have an ice cream, talk it over, and comfort the child in this difficult phase. Like every other difficulty, this too shall pass. The parents must focus on the mental health of the child. Since the damage has already been done, there is no point crying over spilt milk now. Help the child prepare for the fresh exams.
Looking at the positive side of the leaks, the students, who feel they have not fared well in Mathematics and Economics, will have another chance to make up for it. The partying with friends and family need to be postponed for a short while. The students must take it in the right spirit and make the most of it.
Rimli Bhattacharya completed Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of Technology. After obtaining an MBA, she worked in the corporate sector. Rimli is a trained Indian classical dancer, based out of Mumbai, India. She tweets at: @rimli76
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