Students and their guardians have expressed satisfaction over the smooth start to the Higher School Certificate (HSC) exams after seeing previous years become mired in controversy over the repeated leaking of question papers.
Despite issuing assurances, the education ministry came in for heavy criticism after all its attempts to prevent leaks failed during the recent Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination, when question papers for nearly all subjects could be obtained in advance by students.
Officials then announced further measures to prevent leaks for the HSC examinations, which began on April 2.
Two HSC examinations have already been held without any indication of question paper leaks.
Stakeholders now hope this can provide the necessary impetus to end the malpractice, which has become a serious problem for the country in recent times.
Steps taken to curb leaks
The Education Ministry and the government have taken a number of steps to curb question paper leaks during the HSC and equivalent examinations.
According to sources from the ministry, some of these steps involve fixing question paper sets for a particular centre 25 minutes before the exam, using security tapes to seal question paper packets, and directing students to take their seats 30 minutes before the exam.
The apparent success of the measures has brought a sense of relief to the parents and guardians of HSC candidates.
“I am not personally aware of any attempts to leak question papers,” a parent named Fatema Sultana told the Dhaka Tribune.
“The leaks might give a student an immediate advantage but in the long run, it is very damaging to the country (so) I am relieved after learning that the HSC examination has been free of leaks so far.”
Officials of the Education Ministry have taken a careful stance about commenting on the situation after failing to prevent leaks for the SSC exams.
“The HSC exams have only started,” Secondary and Higher Education Division Secretary Sohrab Hossain said.
“We cannot guarantee that allegations of question paper leaks will not be made during the remaining examinations, as these culprits are always on the lookout for circumventing security.
“We are making a serious effort to curb question paper leaks, and so far there is no indication that any leak has occurred.”
Sohrab concluded by saying that the authorities are hopeful about holding the HSC exam without any incidents.
‘Government has become very strict’
Leakers of question papers have nevertheless been active on social media since before the start of the HSC exams.
Many posted advertisements offering question papers to students through different Facebook and Whatsapp groups. Some also attempted to con students into paying money for fake leaked question papers.
Some of these groups, such as PSC, JSC, SSC, HSC Exam Helping Center, even spread rumours of question paper leaks to boost their attempts to sell fake question papers. Only when sitting the exams does it become apparent that the true question papers are completely different.
On the whole, however, the firm vigilance of the Education Ministry and law enforcement agencies appear to have prevented any genuine leaks so far, prompting frustrations among the leakers.
One of the groups’ administrators wrote: “There will be no leaks this time. The government has taken a hard-line stance.”
This correspondent contacted a fake Facebook ID holder named “Neel Akash,” who claimed to have leaked HSC question papers for money.
Before the first HSC exam began, this person wrote: “The government will not be able to curb or stop question paper leaks. It is inevitable.”
However, after the exam started, the person’s tone changed quickly: “No question paper will be leaked during this exam. The government has become very strict. This is not possible anymore.”
This article was first published on banglatribune.com