Expect better security and more checks on malpractices at centres as the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exams commence from Saturday. Though the number of students appearing for the exams have dropped this year, the board has taken additional measures to curb cheating and other exam-related malpractices to avoid a repeat of last year's Algebra paper leak incident.
Only 3.18 lakh students will appear for the HSC exams from Mumbai division this year. Last year, over 3.28 lakh students had appeared for the exam. Tight security measures have been put in place for vigilance during exams.
In a major step, this time, the board has increased the number of main centres for exams, while reducing the number of sub-centres - 395 main centres have been assigned, and the number of sub-centres has been restricted to 101 in Mumbai division, including Thane and Raigad divisions. Last year, there were 212 main centres and 350 sub-centres.
This has put more responsibilities on the centre authorities. The school principal will head the main centre and they will be responsible for their own centre as well as other small centres in their area. These main centres have been provided with more security than the sub-centres.
"We realised that there were a lot of sub-centres mushrooming in the city and it becomes hard to keep track of them as deputies are appointed to monitor them," said Laxmikant Pande, divisional chairperson, Mumbai division.
Also, 36 'flying squads' with education officials and those from the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) will be pressed into service to conduct surprise visits to centres across the city. These squads will have to submit detailed reports of the entire day to the board office in the evening.
Strict instructions have also been given to everyone involved in the conduct of exams. "Centres have been warned that only teachers should be assigned supervision. The job should not be given to peons and other employees," said Uday Nare, member of the board standing committee, Mumbai division. "Chief conductors will have to be present at the centres every day."
The new provision of giving question papers to students 10 minutes before exam commences, has also worried board members, who think it might increase cases of cheating. "Though students are not allowed to carry any books or study material inside the exam hall, but if they get the question paper before time they might whisper answers to each other or indulge in any other form of cheating," said Nare.