Sorry state of public exams

first_imgStudents sit for a public examination. Prothom Alo File PhotoQuestion paper leaks have become a regular phenomenon in the country’s public examinations of late, while many question papers are printed full of errors, leaving the nation’s education system in jeopardy.Until now, these acts-students copying from others’ scripts, teachers telling examinees the answers, or question papers going outside the exam centres-were done covertly. However, the situation has worsened and leaked question papers are now sold on social media or at the dormitories in the open.The number of public exams has increased in the country, which means the number of examinees has increased as well. About 7.5 million students are appearing for four public exams – PEC (Primary Education Completion), JSC (Junior School Certificate), SSC (Secondary School Certificate) and HSC (Higher Secondary Certificate).Numerous faults in the question papers and wholesale adoption of unfair means are creating social instability. However, the education ministry, the primary and mass education ministry, and the education boards-all are failing to take effective measures to address the problem.There was a rumour that the question paper of PEC’s Science exam held on Wednesday was also leaked.Md Sohrab Hossain, secretary at the education ministry’s Secondary and Higher Education Division, told Prothom Alo on Wednesday, “Leaking of question papers cannot be prevented in the current process. We have formed committees to check the feasibility of having separate question papers for different exam centres. We shall take steps once we get their report.”Question papers full of errorsThe Bangladesh and Global Studies question paper in the ongoing PEC exam was full of errors.One of the questions there read, ‘What would happen if no the Mujibnagar govt. was formed’.In another question, the ‘liberation war’ was written as ‘freedom fight’.There were several other mistakes, and these mostly happened in Sylhet and Narayanganj areas.Seeking anonymity, two school teachers of English version told Prothom Alo that this was not the only time an English question paper was full of errors. Rather, this happens very often as the translators are not that skilled.Another question read, ‘What was the consequence of the British policy ‘divide and rule’ here?’ and the options were racial discrimination, social discrimination, cultural discrimination and economic discrimination. Students got confused by these options. In most cases incompetent people are being recruited as teachers and education officers, which is worsening the situation further, former professor of Dhaka University’s Institute of Education and Research (IER), Siddiqur Rahman, told Prothom Alo.Qualified people who are morally upright should be appointed to such posts, he observed.The National Academy of Primary Education (NAPE) at Mymensingh prepares the question papers for the PEC exams. As many as eight sets of question papers are printed and used at different locations. It’s the education officers who translate these question papers.NAPE managing director Md Shah Alam acknowledged the mistakes.“It is true that it was a big mistake. But, they cannot see the question papers,” he said, adding that they would look into the issue and take necessary steps.The Home Science question paper of the recently concluded JSC exam was full of errors as well.Last year there were 11 errors in the Mathematics question paper of Jessore Board, five in the Physics question paper of Dhaka Board, seven in Bangla question paper of Rajshahi Board, and 11 in the Bangla and English versions of the Mathematics question paper of the Chittagong Board.At several places exams were held with two-year-old questions. This also happened in 2012 at Kurigram and Habiganj disctricts, and Dhaka’s Keraniganj.Tapan Kumar Sarkar, controller of examinations of the Dhaka education board, said, “We take a number of steps, including blacklisting the people responsible for the errors.”Leaks in days prior to examInvestigation reveals that question papers are not leaked only on the morning of the exam days, but in some instances, as many as two or three days before as well. Along with BG (Bangladesh Government) Press and exam centres, persons at the distribution level are also involved in the leaking.Previously, question papers of one or two subjects used to be leaked occasionally but since 2012 the trend has changed. Question papers of almost all the subjects are being leaked these days.A detective branch (DB) official of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (west) told Prothom Alo they detained Gazirchot AM High School and College principal Md Mozaffar Ahmed and eight others on 27 March for their alleged involvement in question paper leaking.The detainees informed police that being secretary of a centre of the last SSC examination, Mozaffar Ahmed, along with one of his office assistants, would go to collect question papers from Savar model police station early on exam day. The then Savar upazilla secondary education officer was one of the question paper distributors there.Principal Mozaffar Ahmed and his office assistant would collect the next exam’s question papers along with the questions of the respective day’s exam and spread that around. Police also found that they used their facebook IDs to disseminate sample questions the night before the exams.Police investigation also revealed that sometimes the same teachers are appointed to prepare question papers for several years. They share the questions with students of their schools and coaching centres in the name of giving suggestions.The investigation also revealed that there is a chance of leaking during the typing of questions at the BG press.Two high-ups of the education ministry and secondary and higher secondary education board of Dhaka acknowledged they changed the English question paper of the SSC exam on exam day as it was leaked the previous night.Earlier in 2014, English and Mathematics question papers of HSC exams were leaked the night before the exams. But from 2015 onwards, some teachers have been breaking the seals of packed question papers just 1-2 hours before the exams and sending out images of the questions. The same happened in the recently concluded JSC MCQ (multiple choice question) exam.“[People used to] leak question papers before too, but that was limited. It has increased recently. A good student gets frustrated when he sees that a bad one is doing well getting leaked questions. [As a result] they lose confidence as they grow up. Quality of education is being severely hampered,” said BUET (Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology) professor M Kaykobad.Education minister Nurul Islam Nahid, however, said on several occasions that some miscreants known as teachers are leaking questions on the exam days. They are under surveillance and being seized.Identical question might act as boomerangThe education ministry plans to print question papers at the centres on the day of a public exam, to curb the trend.Several officials of the education ministry, though, informed that the plan will not be implemented in the next SSC exam. BG press will print the question papers again.As eight boards will use identical question papers in the next SSC exam, officials of the education ministry suspect the situation will worsen. Questions leaked at one place will spread quickly across the country and create havoc.*This piece, originally published in the Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Nusrat Nowrinlast_img

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