The case of an HSC question paper for the secretarial practice exam being almost identical to a prelims paper of a Malad college has raised doubts about the system being foolproof.
The process of setting the state board exam papers involves teachers recommended by the department of education and is the result of a consensus decision. Despite this, the HSC secretarial practice paper held on March 4 was an exact replica of the January prelims paper at Prahladrai Dalmia College in Malad.
The Mumbai division board said it had sent a preliminary report to the state board head office in Pune, following which there would be an enquiry.
“This episode needs to be investigated, it is too much of a coincidence. But, sometimes it’s difficult for teachers to set completely different papers every time,” said Jai Hind College Principal, Dr Kirti Narain.
“It’s not possible for papers to be leaked through the board. But if a paper setter wants to play mischief then it is possible they take notes of the discussions,” said Susan Babu, a Maths teacher, who has been part of SSC exam paper setting committees.
The state board is divided into eight divisions. At each divisional headquarter, teachers of a particular subject meet to set the subject paper by a consensus process. Paper setters for the HSC exam are drawn from junior college teachers, while those for the SSC are from affiliated schools.
Babu said that paper-setting committees include teachers from Marathi and English medium schools. “The board attempts to include everyone. The view from the interior part of the state is accommodated to cater to those students too,” she said.
Translators translate the papers into various languages, in the presence of board officials. The process is completed by September of the previous year.
Paper setters come up with more than one set of question papers, so that there are back up sets in case of an emergency.
“Nowadays there are fewer complaints about the process; earlier it used to be worse,” said a junior college teacher.