The recent leaking of question papers for school, college, university and even recruitment examinations has become an epidemic and highlights the urgent need for a radical reform of the education system, said a panel of experts at the ’s latest Boithoki roundtable held in its Dhaka offices on December 21. The roundtable, titled “Question paper leak” and moderated by Mahbubul Hoque, was telecast live on ATN News and the Bangla Tribune
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Current exam method ‘corrupted’
Describing the situation as a “crisis”, University of Liberal Arts teacher and educationist Salimullah Khan said fingers are being pointed at teachers.
“We know the rate of question paper leak is increasing and it’s in the mass media’s spotlight.
“But if we only consider it as a problem, then we will try to find a solution. But if we consider this a crisis, then we will have to find its root causes and resolve it from the core.”
Khan lamented the current methods of cheating by memorising the answers and regurgitating them in the exam.
“This is a massively corrupt system,” he said. “Also, the multiple-choice question (MCQ) system is a remiss and faulty one, as it does not allow students to learn anything properly.”
Khan thought the leaks could be stopped by abolishing the MCQ system and tough syllabuses, and eradicating the mentality of making money through illegal shortcuts.
He said: “Changes have to be made through the curriculum and syllabus. Frequent cross-examination system throughout the year needs to replace the yearly examination system, which mainly focuses on obtaining good grades and certificates.
“In order to evaluate the students’ knowledge, frequent and short tests need to be introduced. Only then can the question leaks can be prevented.”
‘Some teachers do leak question papers’
Another of the panelists, Dhaka education board Chairman Prof Mahbubur Rahman, said the education minister had accepted that some teachers were leaking the questions.
“But question papers do not get leaked on the night before the exam (and) we change the question paper immediately once we get the proof of a leak,” he said.
“What happens in most cases is that when the teachers receive the question paper, someone just takes a picture of it and shares it on Facebook, where it goes viral in seconds.
“We are quite helpless in this situation (but) we are continuously trying plug these leaks with the help of BTRC and police detectives. We have already caught many teachers who leaked questions and legal action is being taken against them,” added Rahman.
‘Question makers are also responsible for stopping leaks’
Addressing the roundtable, Prof Asit Baran Pal, exam controller at Jaghangirnagar University, said the leaking of papers should be self-policed within the institutions.
He said: “In my experience, those who prepare the question papers and are involved in the process, are also the ones mainly responsible for preventing the leaks. Their moral position must be maintained.”
Pal said this accountability method was strictly practiced at Jahangirnagar University, and that is why no question papers had been leaked there.
However, Pal said many parents have recently developed a tendency to help their children secure GPA 5 “at any cost”.
“As the competition among students has gotten tougher, they now look for the question papers before the exams,” he said. “We have to lose this type of mentality. But I do agree that the education system needs to be reformed.”
‘Question leak has become an epidemic’
While agreeing that the leaks have become an epidemic in recent times, Amulya Kumar Baidya, a senior teacher of English at Birshreshtha Munshi Abdur Rouf Public College, said he was less certain on the source.
“The education minister has said that teachers were behind the leaks, but that has to be proved,” he said.
“The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) said that officials from the education boards, BG Press, coaching centres and government institutions were behind question leaks. But the education minister is only accusing the teachers.”
He said the ACC has found 18 critical and risky steps in the process of preparing and distributing a question paper that could result in a leak. “Stronger supervision on these steps is needed,” he said.
Baidya also said that the education system needed to be reformed following the Education Policy.
“I believe, question paper leaks will drop by at least 50% if PSC and JSC examinations are cancelled and the coaching business is banned,” he said.
‘Not enough action is encouraging the culprits’
Bangla Tribune’s Chief Reporter Udisa Islam said there was a difference between hinting towards the possible questions or availability of question banks, and the eagerness of the guardians to buy the leaked question paper on the night, or a few hours, before the exam.
“The latter is the most dangerous and we have now reached that situation,” she said.
“Recently, the question paper of the yearly exam at primary school level was leaked. I wonder what is taught in the primary stage that the question had to be leaked?
“Also, the education minister rejects (this) even when there is proof that question papers were leaked.”
Udisa added that the primary level exams were cancelled and rescheduled after the question was leaked, but when the same thing happened ahead of the exams for PEC, JSC, SSC, HSC, university entry or recruitment, they continued regardless with officials denying the leak.
“Those leaking the question papers may have been encouraged by the inadequate measures taken against them,” she said.
Udisa joined the other panelists in calling for a reformation of the education system, including the examination process, to prevent question leak.