It is distressing that district officials are bringing school teachers into examination halls to help students answer their question papers in the ongoing Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) examinations. Reports from Bagalkot provide an alarming view into the rot in our education system. Fearing poor performance of students, officials and school authorities in this district are reportedly allowing, indeed encouraging, students to copy so that Bagalkot’s performance in the SSLC exam will be better than in the past. Similar reports have emerged from other districts, such as Belagavi, for instance. If in the past we heard of students copying from books or each other or getting help from their friends outside, now students can depend on their teachers to pitch in at the examination hall. The malpractices at Bagalkot and Belagavi were clearly pre-planned and organised. Subject teachers were allocated invigilation duties at examination halls. Soon after the question papers were distributed to the students, teachers got down to work, answered the objective-type questions and then passed these around for students to copy. CCTV cameras were turned off so that there would be no evidence of the malpractice. In addition, parents paid school authorities, invigilators and district officials so that their children would benefit from this ‘support’.
There have been incidents, too, of question papers being available on social media before the end of an examination. This happened with regard to the Kannada First Language paper as well as the Mathematics paper. While these are not instances of question papers getting leaked before exams, it draws attention to leaks in the system as students who leave the hall before the conclusion of the examination are supposed to hand over the question paper to the invigilator. How then did the question papers make their way outside the examination hall and online.
The SSLC examination is an important milestone in a student’s life. Performance in this examination can make or break a student’s career. Many students work hard to secure good grades. Unfortunately, our examination system does not reward intelligence or diligence. Students and their parents buy question papers or bribe graders to get high grades. And now, officials and other authorities, keen for a pat on their backs from higher-ups, are openly facilitating mass copying and other irregularities. They must be taken to task. Encouraging students to take short-cuts or engage in malpractices is indefensible. Honest and hardworking students suffer on account of this. They are left disillusioned at a young age. The coming weeks will see children take various Board and university examinations. Authorities must ensure that examinations are conducted without any malpractices or irregularities.