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What Happened In My DU Exam Reminded Me Of The ‘Bihar Cheating Scandal’

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By Itika Singh:

About this time last month, a photograph of cheating in Bihar went viral. It showed people scaling the walls at an examination centre so that they could pass on answers to students inside. The general response was to treat it as an isolated shocking incident, but how true is that evaluation for us? After all, cheating is a socially acceptable practice for us. The last time I came across a person being ostracized for cheating was in moral stories. Generally, students develop varying moral standards on the issue that set the extent to which they’ll go to cheat in an exam (or whether or not they’ll cheat at all).

bihar cheating scandal.

I have no experience of being a student in Bihar, but plenty of being one in Delhi; and I don’t need to look too far back to quote an instance of cheating. This month, I appeared for my final examination for a French course conducted by Delhi University. The exam was a written one. The students were seated in alternate rows with those appearing for German. As soon as the question papers were distributed, a general murmur emanated from the class and the invigilators made feeble attempts to squash it. From then on, the students made progressively bolder efforts to cheat. Half way into the paper, the refrain of the invigilators had shifted from “Don’t cheat” to “Do what you want, but do it quietly”. This position had diluted even further by the end, so much so that one of the two invigilators made the student behind me sit next to another student of French with the explicit intention of facilitating cheating. After this, other students spontaneously re-arranged themselves. After leaving the exam hall, the students wore expressions of amusement and achievement.

Questions of ethics aside, what does this practice tell us about the flaws in our education system? The great Indian education system has a knack for de-motivating and frustrating those who go through it. Using marks as a means of evaluation has resulted in shifting the focus from learning better to scoring better. There exists a vicious circle of students studying and teachers teaching only for the sake of exams. And why won’t marks be given priority when the system gives so much importance to it? The Delhi University, for example, admits students on the basis of cut-throat cut-offs. Grades are expected to be representative of one’s learning ability, aptitude and passion for a subject. A recent comic video about Delhi University features a student who is haunted with the fear of out on his dream college by just one mark. In such a case, the thought process of a student trying any means possible to score an extra mark or two is understandable. It is also understandable, then, if an invigilator facilitates cheating instead of checking it.

Perhaps a way to fix this flaw in the system is to introduce better means of evaluation. One way can be to conduct evaluation over a period of time to map a student’s genuine progress. This can be complemented by formative assessment, emphasizing on feedback to the student. Also multiple forms of examination can be used to counter the flaws inherent in one form of evaluation. Even in the present form of written examinations, measures can be introduced to test the analysis, comparison, inference, and evaluation skills of students as opposed to merely testing their memory. The underlying idea behind all these forms of evaluation is that evaluation should be treated as a means to an end and not an end in itself. In India, however, another factor that should be kept in mind is that of balancing such individualized assessment with fairness.

Most of the above suggestion may seem distant but some of them are being implemented at various levels. It should be remembered that a complete overhaul of the education system would need structural changes as well as changes in perception. While structural changes may be far off, changes in perception can be triggered immediately.

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  1. kamatam mahendra reddy

    Sir cce method is not suitable system in Indian education.students don’t learning basics in these method.heavyworkloadon students and writing part is too much.in govtschools entered very poor children’s.children’s receiving capacity is based on heridity and environmental effects.in this view ccemethod is not correctpolocy introducing in Indian education system.example.v.class students can read one lesson is divided into part-a,part-b,part-c.total 25pages.student get reached the lesson?what about age of fifth class?lessons are more in each subject,lessons size are more totally heavy teaching method.very stress on teachers with these method.so remove the ccemethod in indianeducationsystem

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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