Technology to tackle paper leak

There are many products and services in the market that use technology to provide security to examinations.

The primary purpose of education is to impart knowledge and educate students on various aspects and subjects. However, over time, the purpose of education seems to have changed and it now emphasises marks and grades. The students grow up with the fear of not being able to get anywhere in life if they are unable to score well in the exams. Parents and institutions also play a major role in making the students look at education as a commodity. The examinations and grading system are considered to be the most crucial part of the system since they not only assess a student’s learning abilities but also develop competency among candidates. Also, testing the students based on their learning skills and competency helps institutions understand and self-assess their teaching methods. 

The education sector has been criticised time and again over an examination system that is considered as flawed in the way it conducts tests and evaluates the papers. The most significant flaw in the examination system is the circuitous route through which the question paper reaches the student, and is subjected to the nuances of corruption. 

Underlying problems 

India’s continuously rising population and the rising Gross Enrolment Ratio has led to examinations increasing in scale by leaps and bounds over the years. As a result, society is losing the sight of the real purpose of education. Most families today consider education more as a means of ensuring entry into the job market than as a means to produce enlightened and ethical citizens. In addition to this, coaching centres have emerged as substitutes to schools and colleges. Also, the fight for grades builds at an early age among the students and ends up having an adverse impact on them. 

In this digital era, technology has taken over almost every aspect of our lives, education has not been left behind and education technology is now an extremely prominent sector. Impact of technology on the education system is nothing new, with most education bodies trying to adopt it faster than earlier. Technology can play a crucial role in providing security and authenticity to the examination process. There are many products and services in the market that use technology to provide security to examinations. These products are designed to ring-fence examinations from the vulnerabilities arising at various stages – right from drafting the question paper to its distribution at the examination hall. 

Right from printing the question papers a few hours before the start of the examination to eliminating most of the logistical and security constraints such as transportation and storage, technology innovations help in making the process transparent. Some of these products ensure that the final question paper is decided randomly from a set of questions based on certain predefined rules or a set of question papers. The final question paper is selected and provided at the examination centre in an encrypted format, barely hours before the examination. Authorised personnel alone can decrypt the question paper and get it printed securely by authorised representatives in a secure zone at the test centre. This ensures that the final question paper is available even to authorised personnel just minutes before the examination, for distribution by the invigilators who further distribute it to the test takers.

Another such measure that offers authenticity and protection to the examination is the on-screen marking process that evaluates answer scripts using smart technologies. By implication, teachers do not have to go through stacks of answer scripts for manually correcting them, marking and calculating the scores on each of the answer papers. This technology helps the examiner to correct the paper in a hassle-free and faster manner, ensuring complete authenticity to the evaluation process.

The education system in India is getting tech-savvy, with areas like examination, course delivery, preventing impersonation, to quote a few. For instance, the online education in India is predicted to reach $1.96 billion by 2021 from its current $247 million. Currently, the Digital Evolution has embarked on the education segment. However, because of the traditional mindset of the educational institutions and the stakeholders in those institutes, the Indian education system has been facing resistance. To effectively transform, and curb the corruption in the system, India needs to adopt such technologies to ensure transparency in the education system.

(The author is with MeritTrac Services, Bengaluru)

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