Just imagine this scenario: you have been preparing and buckling down for one of the most important exams of your life for the past year. Suddenly, you see that the question paper of the exam you are going to sit for the next day, is flashing back and forth on a news channel!
How would you feel at that moment? Sadly, thousands of examinees under the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council felt the same after they allegedly saw that the question papers of the exam they were about to sit for, had already been circulated before the exam’s start.
The more shocking part in this scandalous incident is the involvement of a private institute, which claims that the (allegedly) leaked papers were ‘sample’ question papers by the institute – and that any similarity between their sample paper and the original paper was purely coincidental. According to the reports, the institute’s model papers had a 100% similarity with the board’s papers on Chemistry and Physics, while almost 96% of the questions in the institute’s mock paper on Maths were same as the board’s questions on the same subject. Mysteriously enough, the council initially rubbished the allegations and claimed it to be a false story created by some sections of the media.
After tremendous public pressure and agitations by several students’ organisations, the council has constituted a probe panel, led by a retired sessions court judge. On Sunday, Himanata Biswa Sharma, Assam’s education minister, asked the council to complete its probe within one week and to change the question paper for the upcoming exam on Biology.
But the bigger question is, will these post-event amendments calm the anxious minds of the students? Why did it happen in the first place? Such an event has become a common news for the people of Assam for quite a few years – and dodging these situations has become the modus operandi for Assam’s education council.
These aren’t rare incidents of question paper leaks in the Assam state board examinations. In 2016, the Biology and Physics exams (class 12) were cancelled due to a similar kind of incident, while the class 10 matriculation examinations of 2012 and 2017 were in controversy due to paper leak scams.
The privatisation of the education sector has brought about a rapid change in the educational scene in India. Assam is no exception, but unlike the developed states where all the sectors of education (including technical and medical institutes) are largely privatised – in Assam, many ‘junior colleges’ have mushroomed in the recent past that primarily prepare students for their class 12 examinations. Establishing these institutes needs lesser investments and manpower. The implementation of rules and regulations to control these institutes hasn’t been strict either, due to which one can see a large signboard of a junior college in every nook and corner of the major cities in Assam.
To sustain the intense competition in this field, many owners of these colleges have tried their best to influence the council members in every possible way. This is where the whole problem of corruption begins. Furthermore, these junior colleges need to come under the ambit of a government school through which the students register with the council. It’s likely that many heads of government schools see these junior colleges as their cash cows. The government of Assam must take appropriate actions to control these junior colleges for the sake of a healthy educational environment in the state.
A few days back, national media was swamped by the election results from the Northeastern states, and prime-time stories were done on how ‘saffronisation’ had clicked in that region. It was considered to be a path-breaking event in this part of the country, as such importance had never been given to these states.
But, when the news about the paper leak (which was directly related to the future of thousands of young students) broke, no national channel came forward to cover the story. Is it a surprise for a resident of Assam? The answer is still a big no.
Note: The article was updated to include the following section – “These aren’t rare incidents of question paper leaks in the Assam state board examinations. In 2016, the Biology and Physics exams (class 12) were cancelled due to a similar kind of incident, while the class 10 matriculation examinations of 2012 and 2017 were in controversy due to paper leak scams.”
Featured image used for representative purposes only.