Discontinuing system of multiple question paper sets proved costly: Former CBSE chairman Ashok Ganguly | education | Hindustan Times
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Discontinuing system of multiple question paper sets proved costly: Former CBSE chairman Ashok Ganguly

The former CBSE official also believes that complacency and negligence may have crept into the education system over time .

education Updated: Mar 31, 2018 10:09 IST
Rajeev Mullick
Students protest against the CBSE decision to hold retests, near Jantar Mantar in New Delhi recently.
Students protest against the CBSE decision to hold retests, near Jantar Mantar in New Delhi recently. (Anushree Fadnavis/ HT Photo)

Thousands of students are protesting against the CBSE’s decision to conduct retests after question papers of certain Class 10 and 12 examinations were allegedly leaked. Former CBSE chairman Ashok Ganguly explains how crises such as the one confronting the board can be prevented in the future. Excerpts from the interview:

What, according to you, led to the leakage of CBSE question papers?

The (near-blind) faith in the infallibility of the examination system may have led to this unfortunate incident. Complacency and negligence may have crept into the system over the years. There is a saying that goes: “Nothing fails like success”. The CBSE has enjoyed a reputation of conducting its examinations in an impeccable manner for many decades now.

Do you believe the fallout would have been less severe if the CBSE continued having multiple sets of question papers?

It was the CBSE that pioneered the system of preparing multiple sets of question papers for such examinations, and some state boards even decided to adopt it. Now, while some of these state boards still follow that practice, the CBSE has decided to discontinue it. If we had continued using multiple sets of question papers, the severity of the fallout would have been much less as there would have been no need for a pan-India retest. It would have also helped investigators zero in on the origin of the mischief.

How can such crises be prevented in the future?

We need to revisit the current system of holding examinations, particularly the part where question paper envelopes are appropriately sealed and later opened by a committee half an hour prior to the test. This committee should have a CBSE observer as well as an official from another school. We must revisit various aspects of the system in practice, including the distribution and storage of question papers. Besides this, the CBSE must decide whether to continue with the offline system. The online system does not seem feasible in the present context, going by the huge geographical expanse over which the board has to conduct this examination. New examination centres and storage points should be established only after their credentials are thoroughly verified.

Why has no action been taken against any top CBSE official?

Action can be taken only after the completion of the probe. Conducting a board examination of such magnitude is a team effort, not restricted to one or two individuals. But such things happen when there is a lack of synchrony among team members.

How do question paper leaks heighten anxiety levels among students?

Question paper leaks force students to take retests for no fault of theirs. Stress levels are usually high among students during exam time, and it only gets worse when they have to appear for retests. But we need to reassure them, tell them to be calm and composed. In order to maintain the credibility of the examination and ensure fairness towards all categories of students, the board has no option but to conduct retests.

Do you think the retest will delay Class 12 results, thereby holding up the admission process at the graduate level?

Students have nothing to fear there. The declaration of results may be delayed by a few days, but it should not impact the admission process at the graduate level.