The country saw mass resentment in the past month with the news of the leak of class 10 and 12 board examination question papers. The government suspended one person while the police arrested three. These actions were part of the “immediate” cognisance mechanism that would show the efficacy of the government and solidarity to the student community.
However, the question that remains unanswered is how could something like this happen and what’s the government’s plan to prevent any such leaks in the future?
I don’t think I need to emphasise the gravity of board exams here. Anyone who is familiar with the education system in our country knows how the marks scored in these exams decide the future of many students, especially the ones wanting to get into central universities. For this reason (and many others), students rigorously prepare for such exams for months at an end. The disclosure of the leak and talks of a re-exam negates students’ hardwork.
What complicates the whole issue further is that the HRD Ministry has reasoned that there won’t be a re-test for class 10 students. The retest won’t be conducted because, “Class 10 examination is essentially a gateway for Class XI, and thus remains largely an internal segment of school education, while Class 12 exams are a gateway to higher education and various professional competitive exams which have limited seats…therefore, giving undue advantage to a handful of beneficiaries of the alleged leak of the economics paper would not be in larger interest of the students.”
Conducting re-exams might take a toll on material and human resources of the Ministry, therefore it might be understandable to conduct re-exams only in extreme situations but the reason the ministry furnished for allowing one re-exam over the other has left many flustered.
Let’s analyse one problem at a time. I am not here to question the immediate responses of the government. I am here to emphasise on the fact that while the government took all actions, it deemed necessary, but they were still unable to palliate the doubts and the questions that were raised about the entire education system because of this leak. The only way one could explain this situation is either through the complicity of the officials or their laxity towards their duties. The first step of our government should have been an official apology to the student-body affected due to the leak. This is because despite their efforts, the resentment over the transpired events remains.
Secondly, to dismiss the importance of class 10 board exams conveys a certain disconnect about how this exam is perceived by the society, including centres of higher education, and the government. The ministry failed to recognise the efforts that students put into the preparation of board exams. To dismiss these efforts only adds to the dwindling confidence that people have in the education system. It adds insult to the injury.
As mentioned earlier, one is compelled to question the validity of the class 10 board exams if their utility is easily disregarded. It must be emphasised that students prepare for the class 10 board exams with as much fervour as the class 12 board exams. This means they go through the same level of stress, apparently for something that doesn’t affect their future as much.
Students of class 12, a lot of whom begin or resume preparing for competitive exams will have to prioritise the re-exam over the entrance exams, as a lot of these competitive exams also give weight to marks scored in the board exams.
The fester in our education system is far worse than what we can see right now. The leaking of the papers might only be one of the many culminations of a rot that plagues the system.
The HRD ministry has set up a “high-powered committee” to examine the process by which the CBSE conducts examinations and submit a report by May 31 to the ministry. This is a good starting point, but while ‘high-powered committees’ seem important, they might get stuck in bureaucratic processes. Also, this shouldn’t be considered the by-all and end-all of the problem because the problem doesn’t end here.
We must remember that students are under immense pressure when they’re preparing for board exams, and also when they’re anticipating the results. It has become increasingly hard to cope in a system which rewards a student who scores a 95 percent and shuns those who achieve anything less. The system only provides numbered opportunities, and students are taught that if they can’t make anything of those opportunities, they are failures. The leak, thus, aggravates and adds to the pressure they’re under. This needs to change. Of course, the government should ensure proper security so that something like this never happens again. However, maybe it’s time to examine if the education system itself needs an overhaul.