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West Bengal to use micro-chip to prevent exam cheating: Time the State took a tough stand

With students and educationists fighting rampant cheating in exams, technology may come to the rescue

editorials Updated: Mar 13, 2018 18:36 IST
Board exams,West Bengal,Microchip
In this photograph taken on March 19, 2015, Indian relatives of students taking school exams climb the walls of the exam building to help pass candidates answers to questions in Vaishali, Bihar (AFP)

From question paper leaks to imposters writing examinations to invigilators dictating answers to students inside exam halls, cheating in exams is rampant in India. A few years ago, an educational scandal in Madhya Pradesh saw widespread rigging of exams conducted by the state’s professional exam board, Vyapam. And in the capital, aspirants to the staff selection commission exam are on hunger strike demanding a probe into an alleged leak of a question paper.

Educationists and candidates have been fighting a tough battle against mass cheating and exam malpractices in the country. Technology may yet come to the rescue. Question paper packets of the West Bengal Secondary exams that began on Monday have been fitted with a microchip. West Bengal Board of Secondary Education President Kalyanmoy Ganguly said the microchip will be put on a sticker on the sealed envelope containing the question papers. The chips are GPS-enabled. If the seal is broken, the data will be passed on to the server at the control room at the board’s office.

West Bengal isn’t the only state trying to take on the cheating mafia. In Uttar Pradesh, deterred by stringent anti-cheating measures undertaken by the BJP government including closed circuit televisions and the deployment of and a special task force, 661,643 students — around 10% of the number enrolled —failed to show up for the board exams last month.

Declining teaching standards, understaffed schools, and cut-throat competition in which too many students chase unrealistic grades in board exams for too few college seats means the cheating industry is never short of takers. That education is a state subject shouldn’t deter the Centre from stepping in and stemming the rot in our examination and evaluation processes.

Are strong measures such as a law that makes cheating in exam an offence punishable by a seven-year jail term, (China adopted this in 2016), the solution? Telangana was contemplating a prison term of up to seven years for those caught cheating in the matriculate exams. Gujarat has had a law against cheating in high school examinations since 1972, under which the guilty can be jailed for up to two years. Trying to shed the notoriety of a hotbed of exam-cheating, the Uttar Pradesh government could implement some provisions of a now-defunct anti-copying law first enacted in 1992 that made supervisors and invigilators at exam centres where students are caught cheating culpable.

The way to stop cheating in exams is hi-tech security for question papers, electronic surveillance with deployment of closed circuit TVs at exam centres, random checks, surprise interviews and high-level re-evaluations. No measure should be ruled out to ensure that genuine students don’t bear the brunt of the actions of those who take the easy way out.

First Published: Mar 13, 2018 18:35 IST