The question papers of English Paper I, alongside the previously held Bangla Papers I and II, of the ongoing Secondary School Examinations (SSC) and equivalent exams have all been leaked. Despite the efforts of the Ministry of Education, no remedy has worked so far.
Based on the belief that the questions are being leaked on the morning of the exams, the examinees are allowed inside the hall only 30 minutes before the exams start, but that has not worked either.
Educationists have commented that the questions are being leaked long before the exams are scheduled to take place, not on the eve or on the day of the exams.
They say while the question papers are being prepared, 40-60 people get exposed to them. There is no guarantee that someone among those people are not leaking the question papers. The question papers of examinations starting from Primary School Certificate (PSC) to admission exams are all being leaked every year, yet no visible progress has been made to stop this crime.
Educationists think that the mystery behind this lies in the distribution and the printing of the question papers. Dr Md Kaykobad, assitant professor at BUET, said: “The question papers actually get leaked a long time before exams begin. However, since the perpetrators know the question papers will get changed if the leaked ones get circulated earlier, they are circulated through the internet right before the day of the exam.”
Prof Syed Manzoorul Islam from Dhaka University said: “A syndicate is facilitating the question paper leaks. But instead of catching and punishing them, the students are being made to suffer. This is only encouraging the syndicates, which is why the question paper leak is turning into such a phenomenon.”
Former adviser to the previous caretaker government, Rasheda K Chowdhury, said: “The Education Ministry is not providing adequate information regarding technology. That is why no solution has been found yet.”
Educationists expressed concern over the question paper leak on the first day of the SSC examination. When the question for the second exam was leaked as well, they labelled it as an epidemic. The embarrassed teachers and educationists blamed the negligence of the Education Ministry for this issue.
Prof Kaykobad said: “It is clear that, long before the exams start, the question papers are in possession of the ones who leak them. They are only leaked before the day of the exam to harass the authority.
“As a teacher, I am terribly embarrassed. The questions of all exams, starting from PSC to medical admission, are getting leaked,” he added.
Terming the situation “very depressing,” Kaykobad said: “Of course, this is preventable. If other countries in the world can do it, we can too. It might be that we are less conscious than the rest of the world. For that, we have to stop depending upon technology.”
He mentioned that if the question papers are distributed the day before the exam, then there will be no chances of the questions getting leaked.
Talking further on the matter, Prof Kaykobad said: “If the questions are distributed through technological means to different centres an hour before the exams start, then there are no possibilities of them getting leaked. Dr Zafar Iqbal said this when the education policies were formulated.
“How can you guarantee that the questions will not get leaked if they are published such a long time earlier? A clerk or a messenger, if they are looking to make some money, might easily think it is not a great crime to leak them for a sum of Tk10,000. People are getting away with stealing crores of taka; why would this be a crime?”
Similar views were echoed by Prof Syed Manzoorul Islam. He said: “The policy of allowing examinees to enter the hall 30 minutes before the start of exam has not worked. An investigation committee comprised of law enforcement officials and detectives must be made. They must be provided full autonomy over their activities regarding the arrest of the perpetrators.”
He continued: “The people associated with the question paper leaks must be unmasked. Otherwise, we might as well assume people from the Education Ministry are also involved in it.”
The examinations procedures, the logistics of the ministry, fewer public examinations and the omission of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ)s – all of these suggestions should be implemented to stop the trend of question leak, said Prof Syed Manzoorul Islam.
“I think the Ministry of Education has completely failed to control the examinations proceedings,” he said. “The ones who were responsible in the previous years were not caught and dealt with. There should be massive changes in the administration of the ministry.”
Rasheda K Chowdhury said the sources of the leaks should be traced using technology and detective agencies. “The criminals must be severely punished. In the long term, the rules and regulations of the exams have to be changed,” she said. “Teachers and students both should be evaluated properly. Emphasis should be put on teachers’ evaluation.”
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune