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Ministry panel plans encryption, QR codes on CBSE question papers to prevent leaks

The expert panel recommended dates for CBSE board exams be different for subjects that are less popular. For these subjects, the exam could be held within the respective schools that offered the subject, instead of a common centre as is the current practice.

education Updated: Jun 16, 2018 07:14 IST
Neelam Pandey
Neelam Pandey
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
CBSE,CBSE paper leak,CBSE question paper
CBSE Class 12 students taking an exam at a centre in Gurgaon.(HT File Photo)

An expert panel set up by the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry has recommended shortening and bifurcating the CBSE board exam season, encrypting and using centre-specific quick response (QR) codes on question papers in a bid to prevent a repeat of this year’s leak of the Class 12 economics and Class 10 mathematics papers.

The panel’s report, which HT has seen, also sought to do away with variations in marking schemes and moderation practices followed by different boards. HT had first reported on the recommendations of the panel on June 4.

The panel, headed by former HRD secretary VS Oberoi and comprising seven others, was given the task of reviewing all aspects related to security checks built in the board exam system to ensure question papers reach examinees without leaks or being tampered.

The committee was asked to assess potential points of weakness in the present system of transporting question papers from the printing presses to the examination halls. The recommendations will now be considered by the HRD ministry with no specific time frame for taking a decision. “CBSE should consider the feasibility of providing encrypted question papers electronically to exam centres for centre-based printing in a decentralized mode to minimise the scope for undesirable interventions and leakage,” its report said.

The panel recommended dates for board exams be different for subjects that are less popular. For these subjects, the committee said, the exam could be held within the respective schools that offered the subject, instead of a common centre as is the current practice. The Central Board of Secondary Examination (CBSE) will set the questions papers, deliver them to schools, depute invigilators and observers, and evaluate the answer sheets.

“The exam for such identified subjects should be conducted during January-February and be completed definitely by the end of February each year,” the report said.

For more popular subjects, exams should be conducted in March-April, the panel suggested.

“This has multiple advantages in that the CBSE can focus on the smooth conduct of examinations of subjects that are opted (for) by for most students; the stress/anxiety level in students will lessen as exams could be better spaced out,” the panel added.

The CBSE offers 168 courses in Class 12 and 70 in Class 10, and students usually opt for various permutations of subjects. Because of this, conducting the exams usually takes about seven weeks, a member of the committee said on the condition of anonymity.

If the recommendation is accepted and the exam season split, the board examination can be reduced to at least four weeks, the person added.

The committee also suggested having in place a common core curriculum or syllabi up to Class 12 in major subjects, especially mathematics and science.

The committee said all boards should consider common approaches towards a question paper pattern and with an agreed distribution of knowledge, understanding and application-based questions, and elements of theory, practical and internal assessment with the same maximum and passing marks.

“There is a need for a uniform scoring procedure and an evaluation system that is based on structured marking schemes,” it said.

The committee recommended that government schools be preferred as examination centre and, if private institutions were chosen, the board should develop guidelines and change them periodically.

The panel recommended reviewing the range of subjects offered, merging subjects that are conceptually similar, removing subjects that are technologically or otherwise out of date and have little practical use and reviewing subjects that have had few takers, with an exception for languages.

First Published: Jun 16, 2018 07:07 IST