PATNA: Just as the Bihar government was patting itself on the back for conducting the state education board examinations amid foolproof security, a controversy erupted after two toppers failed to answer rudimentary questions pertaining to their subjects on a television show.
Embarrassed board officials have put the results of the students — Roby Rai from the intermediate (arts) stream and Saurav Sresth from the intermediate (science) discipline — on hold, and are planning to subject all meritorious students to a re-test on June 3.
“Seven toppers each from intermediate (arts) and intermediate (science) will be called for an examination and an interview before a panel of experts. The students’ handwriting will also be studied to confirm if they wrote in the answer books themselves,” said Bihar board chairman Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh.
Sources said original answer books could also have been replaced with those written by proxy candidates. “But this will come to light only after a thorough investigation. Some colleges are known to use their clout to manipulate results,” an official said.
While education minister Ashok Choudhary admitted to the possibility of an education mafia that manipulates exam results, BJP MP Ashwini Choubey described the Bihar boards as a “fiasco” that was lowering the state’s education standards.
Choudhary said, “We have ordered an inquiry and strict action will be taken against the guilty. We have put a lot of effort into reversing the state’s image after a cheating videos went viral last year, and we won’t let anybody tarnish it.”
All errant students, teachers and institutions will be taken to task, he said. “We won’t let the morale of genuine candidates fall. What will the students think? We will not spare anybody found guilty.”
Bihar Secondary Teachers’ Association general secretary Kedar Pandey said a thorough investigation must be ordered into the matter because it has diluted the government’s efforts to discourage cheating.
“The toppers have come under the scanner over a glaring disconnect between the marks they scored and the knowledge they demonstrated,” he added.
Wondering how something like this could happen despite the precautions taken by the government, he said, “There seems to be a serious administrative lapse. We have been demanding the board make a list of qualified evaluators, but they try to do things in a hurry using just about anybody.”