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No place for copycats: Why did many stay away from UP board exams this year?

According to UP board officials, more than 6.4 million regular and 1.8 million private students appeared in this year’s examinations, but over 1.47 million dropped out within the first few days.

Board Exams 2018 Updated: Mar 01, 2018 17:27 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
UP Board exam,Board exam 2018,Cheating in exam
Students appear in the Class 12 examination of UP Board at an examination centre in Moradabad on February 6, 2018.(PTI)

A crackdown by the police’s special task force (STF) to prevent cheating and surveillance cameras in and outside examination halls recording every movement have apparently prompted many students to skip the Uttar Pradesh education board’s classes 10 and 12 finals this year.

According to board officials, more than 6.4 million regular and 1.8 million private students appeared in this year’s examinations, but over 1.47 million dropped out within the first few days. At 64,858, Ghazipur reported the highest number of dropouts, followed by Azamgarh’s 64,777 and Deoria’s 61,620.

The dropout figure almost doubled this year compared with 594,000 in 2017 and about 640,000 the previous year.

Board secretary Nina Srivastava said strict monitoring and security cameras contributed largely in more than a million examinees skipping the exams, which February 6 and continue till March 12.

Another official, requesting anonymity, said the board is keeping a close watch on the increasing number of dropouts.

“The students skipped the exams as the board has taken measures to put an end to copying, which was rampant in the past. This year, the board is using CCTV cameras and taking help from the special task force of UP police. These kept the copying mafia away from exam centres,” the official said.

Rakesh Sonkar, a 21-year-old examinee from the Bakshi-ka-Talab area of Lucknow, was among the absentees.

“Several examinees and I paid Rs 14,000 each to the copying mafia to clear the examination, but it failed to help us. The man fled with the money. He could not help us take the exam at a centre where answers could be dictated to us by the invigilator,” Sonkar said.

Sonkar works at a factory and needs to clear Class 12 for a promotion and a pay hike of Rs 1,200 a month. But having failed in his past two attempts, he decided to take the test as a private this year. People not attending regular schools are allowed to write the exam as private candidates in UP.

“I was informed by my company that if I pass Class 12, I may get a promotion and a salary hike. I was desperate to clear the examination this year. However, I had to skip as the broker failed to bail me out,” he said.

Like him, 19-year-old Shailesh Kumar of Nigohan took the help of a coaching institute.

“The owner of the institute took the money but returned it after he found that it was next to impossible to help students cheat at the examination centre,” he said.

Sonkar and Kumar refused to divulge the identity or give any details about the brokers.

Deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma expressed satisfaction over the steps taken to check the use of unfair means, saying the measures were aimed at reforming the examination system.

“We did not succumb to pressure from any influential person who wanted particular school to be made examination centre. We brought down the number of examination centres from 11,000 last year to 8,500 this year. We sought the help of STF in 50 districts where we felt copying was rampant,” he said.

He advised those who dropped out to “prepare again, study hard and take the examination in a copying-free environment”.

The UP government crackdown follows reports of large-scale use of unfair means in the board-conducted school finals, sometimes to the extent of parents, friends and touts providing answers in pieces of paper to students writing an exam.

Lucknow district inspector of school Manoj Kumar Singh said: “This year we were able to keep the copying mafia away from examination centres. The entire process of selecting centres was done online by the board … This helped keep the cheats in check.”

First Published: Feb 12, 2018 19:48 IST