The Financial Express

Why undermine public examinations!

Nilratan Halder | Published: February 06, 2020 21:03:18

Why undermine public examinations!

The Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Examinations saw an inauspicious beginning this time. On Monday, the ailments that had long bedevilled public examinations made their round once again in several examination halls all across the country. Question paper leak, faulty or confusing questions in question papers, setting carbon-copy questions from guide books, distribution of wrong sets of question papers and teachers' or outsiders' involvement in supplying answers to examinees in exam halls among other malpractices marked the two most important public (SSC and HSC) examinations for years.

Quite a few drastic measures taken by the education ministry nearly succeeded to root out the irregularities and crimes that vitiated the environment of public examinations. Of the measures, the most important two were nabbing some ringleaders of the gangs involved in question paper leak and ordering closure of all coaching centres during the entire period of SSC and HSC examinations. That the authorities meant business is evident from their gearing up of activities at all levels. So, those involved in question paper leaks during the Dhaka University's admission tests were also nabbed and scores of DU students were expelled from the university only recently.

However, corrupt minds are incorrigible and they look for loopholes to carry on with their old ways. At a time when expectation was high that this year's SSC and HSC examinations will be held in a more ideal environment with no controversy, the examination of Bangla first paper has created quite a scandal. Alleged leak of MCQ (multiple choice questions), distribution of wrong sets of questions, exams held on old question papers under the 2016 and 2018 syllabi and even exact copies of questions from guide books are some of the irregularities and malpractices reported in the media.

Earlier, the primary school ending examinations also confronted quite a number of vexing questions so much so that the High Court felt prompted to issue directives concerning expulsion of examinees. Expulsion of the tender-age children was declared illegal and an order was given to hold exam for the expelled examinees. However, what happened to those young ones on behalf of whom others appeared for proxy examinations is not known.

True, children of class V are too innocent to copy in examinations or get involved in other malpractices. But it is clear that the elders take recourse to crimes like impersonation or proxy examination. In the process, they give a taste of immoral and criminal act to the young ones. When the role of elders should have been to teach the young learners to uphold fairness and truth above everything else, they are given a dose of unfairness and ethical aberration early in their life. Thus education and examinations have been reduced to something bereft of sanctity.

Clearly, the nation has utterly failed to create a healthy system of holding public and other examinations or tests. Not all examinees or candidates know of such illegal support from outside. There are some rare examinees who hate to take advantage of any outside help. But the majority are not equally morally upright. The elements who are after making quick bucks out of malpractices like question leak contact susceptible examinees or candidates or even guardians and accept hefty speed money for the dubious service. An education system cannot stand strong on such limping feet. An examination is nothing but evaluation of students' merit. But it cannot evaluate the moral uprightness of a person. No wonder one who scores high marks by adopting unfair means in student life is most likely to resort to foul means for success in career and financial matters.

Now the problem lies with the type of education the country pursues. Here teachers may either be below quality or corrupt. Actually the system is to blame for this moral deviation. Teaching is a noble profession but now it is, like other such professions, most abused. True, the monetary reward for their job is not enough. So they are compelled to engage in tuition or coaching in their spare times. But for many the engagement has turned out to be so commercial that they do a disservice to their class teaching.

Although legally coaching is not permitted, no action could be taken because the service is indispensable for the present system of education. Under the system teachers may not be taken into confidence because it is too much to expect neutrality across the board in evaluation of answer scripts at school level. In developed countries, school assessment of a student is enough. It is possible because teachers are well qualified and there is not a great difference in standards between and among schools.

Had most of the school teachers been well qualified, fracas like copying from guide books for setting question papers at the SSC level would never have happened. It is a disgrace that structured questions from guide books had to be copied by question setters this year because they were unable to formulate them. If teachers were adequately qualified, another cumbersome aspect involving the number of papers at the SSC or HSC level could have been avoided. Why should a student sit for 13 papers at such levels? In the neighbouring country, students have to appear for half the papers' examinations. An inter-ministerial committee formed on April 10, 2014, rightly suggested public examination for five or so papers. However, this warrants improving the quality of teachers in schools lagging behind and also narrowing the gap in infrastructural facilities.



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