Struggling to curb the use of mobile phones in exam centres, the Maharashtra state education board can learn from ICSE and CBSE boards which has adapted high-tech methods such as installing network jammers, CCTVs, and other best practices to prevent cheating during exams, suggest experts.
The state board is finding it difficult to stop students and supervisors from carrying mobile phones into the examination centres in the ongoing HSC and SSC exams. The HSC bookkeeping and accountancy question paper which was leaked on WhatsApp last week is suspected to have been photographed by an exam staff with a mobile phone and images circulated to students.
While mobile phones continue to be a menace during exams as students often sneak them into exam halls, the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) have been tackling this problem.
The CISCE, for instance, has allowed its exam centres to install network jammers, which can block transmission or reception of signals from mobile and other electronic devices. This reduces the scope for malpractices as no one can send or receive any images at the centres. “Using mobile phones is strictly not allowed at our exam centres, some tech-savvy centres have also installed jammers, as an added measure,” said Gerry Arathoon, chief executive secretary of the council.
But the state board authorities argued that they do not have the necessary budget for installing such devices. “We have over 1,000 exam centres for HSC and SSC exams (in Mumbai), we are having trouble ensuring that these centres have even basic facilities such as electricity generators and invertors to provide uninterrupted power during exams; we cannot afford to fit in jammers,” said Siddheshwar Chandekar, secretary of the divisional board.
However, academicians brushed aside the board’s argument, stating that affordable technology and simple solutions can also be adopted. “It is true that the state board cannot be compared to other boards as they cater to a large volume of students, nearly 15 to 17 lakh across the state but that there a plethora of simple ways to improve vigilance,” said Father Francis Swamy, joint-secretary of the Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE) that runs 150-odd schools in the city.
According to Swamy, the board can urge its schools to use CCTVs to monitor custody centres, exam halls and others. Adding to the list of simple solutions, principals of schools following national boards suggested that the board can follow the policy of having multiple sets of question papers for every subject. Experts said that the board also needs to become stricter on its exam staff. CBSE board for instance, has strict rules on selecting exam staff, anyone who has a close relative appearing for the exams, is not allowed to be appointed on the staff.