In a major reform of the system, mass cheating in Bihar may be curbed — and even become a thing of the past — if a plan to use high-tech gadgets and deploy extra security forces at exam centres bears fruit.
Bihar has for years struggled with the problem of mass cheating — with reports and visuals of guardians helping their wards cheat hitting the news every year.
This year, however, ahead of the forthcoming Class 10 and Class 12 exams in February and March respectively, the education department has directed officials to begin preparations for cheating-free exams by installing CCTV cameras and using videography and live webcasting of examination centres. Additional security forces too will be deployed.
“We have decided not to tolerate and compromise on this anymore. The Grand Alliance-led government is committed to ensure cheating-free exams,” state education minister Ashok Choudhary told IANS.
Choudhary added that stern measures would be taken against anyone attempting to cheat.
According to education department officials, nearly 14 lakh students will appear for intermediate exams from the last week of February and around 15 lakh students will write the matriculation exams in March this year.
Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh, chairman of the Bihar school examination board, said that CCTV cameras would be installed outside the exam centres and videography would be conducted inside, while thousands of security personnel would also be deployed.
Furthermore, officials said that not more than three students would be allowed to share a bench during any exam to minimise the chances of cheating.
All district magistrates and superintendents of police have been asked to invoke Section 144 of the CrPC — which prohibits assembly of more than 10 people in an area — and ban illegal gatherings and groups at all examination centres an hour before the exams begin. Parents, guardians, family members and friends would also be kept away from the centres.
At a high-level meeting chaired by chief secretary Anjani Kumar Singh here on Tuesday, it was decided that if cheating is reported from any centre, exams there would be cancelled and action taken against officials and teachers.
Last month, the education department suspended four headmasters of government-run schools where large-scale cheating was reported in 2015. Exam centres from where widespread cheating was reported would be blacklisted, officials said.
A retired school teacher, Amir Hasan, recalled how in 1996 when the high court took cognizance of rampant cheating in the state, only 12% students could pass the board exam.
“Whenever authorities act tough in exams, the pass percentage falls drastically,” he said.