Public exam system needs an overhaul

Public exam system needs an overhaul

At the best of times, preparing for and writing an examination is hugely stressful for students. It is all the more so when they are compelled to appear repeatedly for an exam on the same subject. Thanks to the utter carelessness of Karnataka’s Department of Pre-University Education of the government headed by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, the question paper for the Chemistry exam of the II PUC course has been repeatedly leaked. Some 1.74 lakh students who were to take this exam have been put through an emotional wringer. Several versions of the paper were doing the rounds on the eve of the re-exam that was scheduled to be held on March 31. One of these had all 36 questions of the original question paper. The Chemistry exam has now been postponed again to April 12. Besides the stress related to the PU exam itself is the pressure of entrance exams to professional courses. Many students are worried that the rescheduling of their Chemistry paper will impact their preparation and performance of entrance exams; the rescheduled re-exam falls in between entrance exams. Additionally, this experience will leave our youngsters disillusioned and demoralised by an education system that gives an unfair advantage to those who have the connections and the money to buy question papers.

This is certainly not the lesson the education system should be giving our youth. The DPUE ought to feel ashamed of itself. One would have thought that when the question paper leaked the first time, the department would act to plug the leaks. It did not, signalling not only its insensitivity to the plight of the students but also the greed of those leaking the papers. To them, more exams and re-exams are just an opportunity to make more money.

Forty officials of the exam section of the DPUE have been suspended with immediate effect. But the tentacles of this trade in exam papers are likely to extend way beyond the exam section of the DPUE. Investigations must examine the role of middlemen, the tuition mafia, parents and students as well. Authorities claim that the various stages that a question paper goes through before it lands on the table of a student in the exam hall are leak-proof. Clearly they are not. Investigators must identify not only the masterminds and foot soldiers in the paper leak but also examine the process of preparing, printing, storing and distributing question papers to make it absolutely water-tight. The faith of our youngsters in the education system and its capacity to test, grade and reward performance has been undermined. It must be restored. The public examination system needs an overhaul.

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