A Right to Information (RTI) application filed by a parent has helped expose malpractices at a Navi Mumbai exam centre for the state scholarship exams.
Following this, the Maharashtra State Council of Examinations Board (MSCEB), which conducts the exams, recently blacklisted the Belapur centre.
Sudhir Dani, father of a student who was then in Class 4, got suspicious after his daughter appeared for the exam in 2008 at Vidya Prasarak High School in Belapur and told him that the supervisor had read out answers to all 50 multiple-choice questions to the 25 students sitting for the exam.
Dani filed complaints with the school and education officers, but when he got no response, he filed an RTI application for the scores of all students who appeared in 2008 from the centre, which revealed that 18 of 25 students had scored 88 of 100 marks in Marathi language paper.
Armed with this information, in October 2012, Dani filed a complaint with the MSCEB, which conducted a probe and blacklisted the school as an exam centre. It has also launched an inquiry on the woman supervisor. Mahaveer Mane, commissioner of MSCEB, said: "We are going to conduct further inquiry against the Belapur centre and the supervisor."
Dani said: "Scholarship exams are supposed to prepare students for competitive exams, but local officials encourage malpractices as they need a certain number of students to get scholarships so that they receive Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan grants."
Last year, in Class 7 scholarship exams, 22 students, mostly from rural schools, scored perfect scores of 300. Experts look at such statistics with doubt as surveys such as the Annual Status of Education Reports show that learning levels in the state are poor.
Farida Lambay, co-founder, Pratham NGO, said: "Scholarship exams often produce excellent results, but our surveys show that in primary schools, students are not even able to do basic maths or read sentences in English."