CBSE orders retest of Class 10 maths, Class 12 economics papers after ‘leak’

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Mar 29, 2018 12:02 AM IST

The CBSE said on Wednesday the Class 10 mathematics and Class 12 economics board exams will be held again after reports of paper leak.

All 1.7 million students of Class 10 who took the mathematics exam conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on March 28, and all 500,000 students of Class 12 who took the economics exam of the same board on March 26, will have to take them again, after the board admitted on Wednesday that the question papers had leaked before the exams.

Students write their CBSE board exams in a Gurgaon school.(PTI File Photo)
Students write their CBSE board exams in a Gurgaon school.(PTI File Photo)

The board said it would announce the dates for the retest within a week, but a senior board official speaking on condition of anonymity said they would happen after April 13, when the Class 10 and Class 12 exams end.

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This is perhaps the first time in the board’s history that such wholesale retests are happening. There have been retests in the past, but these have been restricted to a few centres.

The leak of the economics paper came to light while the exam was going on, officials said, while a handwritten mathematics paper with the same questions as the CBSE question paper has been in circulation on social media outlets since Monday. Both the cases are under investigation, CBSE officials said.

“The board has taken cognisance of certain happenings in the conduct of certain examinations as are being reported. With the view to upholding the sanctity of the Board examinations and in the interest of the fairness to the students, the board has decided to reconduct the examinations,” CBSE said in a statement.

At a press conference later in the day, Union human resource development (HRD) minister Prakash Javadekar said the matter of paper leaks is being “seriously” looked into. The ministry has initiated an internal investigation into the matter. To ensure there is no “leakage” of papers, the sanctity of the question papers will be protected with the use of technology across the country, the minister promised. “Seems some organised gangs are doing it [leak] deliberately. We are sure whosoever is doing it will be identified and nabbed soon. We have also decided to tighten security for the time when papers are being distributed.”

The minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called him after the reports emerged.

The Delhi police crime branch on Tuesday and Wednesday registered two FIRs to probe the leaks; the one on Tuesday concerned the leak of the economics paper, and the one on Wednesday the mathematics paper.

A senior police officer said the two cases were registered on a complaint by a regional director of CBSE. Police have formed two special investigation teams headed by two DCPs, four ACPs and five inspectors. The two FIRs have been registered under sections of cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy against ‘unknown persons’. Police are yet to identify any suspects.

Special commissioner of police (crime) RP Upadhyaya said police are probing the source of the WhatsApp messages. “We have questioned around 25 persons in the case, who are mostly students who had received the question papers over WhatsApp,” he said, adding that CBSE says the papers were leaked in Delhi. According to a senior police officer who asked not to be identified, CBSE officials have said that the question paper set was not tampered with at any of the examination centres across the city.

Hindustan Times has learnt that some teachers, parents and students plan to approach the Delhi high court seeking a re-test in other subjects as well, and an independent investigation. The parents and students claim that even the Class 10 social studies and Class 12 biology papers were leaked. Rumours and reports of leaks have swirled around since the beginning of the important exams, although CBSE has consistently denied these. The Class 10 exams are important because they decide the stream a student can choose in Class 11, and the Class 12 exams because they are a significant component in college admissions.

The process to set the question paper starts in July-August the previous year, a paper-setter said. Each subject expert identified by the board sends in three versions in longhand to a high-powered committee. This panel finalises the question papers to be forwarded to the board. Twenty-seven sets are printed for each subject and paper-setters do not know which one will make it to the examination centre on the day of the exam.

On Monday, CBSE denied claims on social media that the economics paper was leaked ahead of the exam as reports surfaced of the question paper being circulated through WhatsApp hours before the exam.

“We have checked with all examination centres and the paper was not leaked. The source of the circulation of this information is not known yet,”a senior CBSE official said.

The decision to conduct re-tests caught parents, students and teachers by surprise.

“My child had spent months preparing for the exam and taking the test again is a major issue. We are really stressed over this. CBSE should put better measures in place so that it is not repeated,” said Lalita Devi, a parent from Delhi. “In my 36-plus years of experience, I don’t remember students ever having to retake the board exams. Earlier also, the paper may have leaked, but we may have not known. There have been rumours after almost every exam this year about a possible leak,” said Manohar Lal, the principal of DPS Mathura Road.

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    Neelam Pandey covers education sector and gender issues for Hindustan Times. She is a policy wonk with a keen interest in politics.

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