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Education boards turn to technology to streamline exam process

mumbai Updated: Nov 15, 2014 23:36 IST
Puja Pednekar

Examinations are going hi-tech with major education boards turning to technology as they seek to improve the evaluation process and meet the challenges posed by an increasing number of students.

Three major boards – Council of Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE), Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), and the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) - are using the latest technology to speed up the registration and evaluation process for examinations.

Handwriting recognition, online evaluation and digital hall tickets are being introduced to make the examination and evaluation process faster, more accurate and glitch-free.

The steady rise in the number of students is the main reason why boards are adopting new technology.

The number of students appearing for the CISCE exams has jumped from 1.9 lakh to 2.1 lakh in the last two years. This includes students appearing Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) exams – equivalent to Class 10 – and Indian School Certificate (ISC) exams – equivalent to Class 12. At present, the board has only 8,500 evaluators across 600 evaluation centres to check around 25 lakh answer sheets every year.

This means every evaluation has the task of checking nearly 300 answer sheets.

To bridge the gap, CISCE has decided to use technology such as handwriting recognition devices and cloud-based software for evaluation of answer sheets.

“We have invited tenders from different technology firms to automate evaluation,” said Gerry Arathoon, chief and secretary, CISCE. “Once we receive their replies, we will decide how to go about it.”

Going a step ahead, the CBSE has already started online correction of Class 10 answer sheets since March this year. The answer sheets are handed over the software provider, where they are scanned and ready for evaluation by examiners.

Special software has been created for the board to enable accurate assessment. “By next year, we are hoping to extend this to Class 12 exams and eventually other exams too,” said a senior CBSE official.

Even state-run education boards are taking the help of technology. The Maharashtra board saw a record-breaking 7.2 lakh students registering online for the Class 10 Secondary School Certification (SSC) exam in the last three days. The board has introduced online registration for the exam for the first time this year.

“These have been the quickest registrations in the board’s history,” said Laxmikant Pande, chairperson, Mumbai division.

The board also aims to provide digital hall tickets for the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) - Class 12 - students next year so that students will not have to wait till the last minute to receive it.

The board has also introduced online exams for Information Technology, which students have to give from specific centres.

Technology is being seen as a tool to increase accuracy in the examination process. But while these changes promise a smoother exam process for students and education boards, academicians are worried that such practices might increase the scope for manipulation and cheating.”