There have been widespread allegations of leaking of question papers of all public exams like JSC, SSC and HSC, medical college and university admission tests, and state-owned banks' recruitment exams over the last several years. The ongoing SSC exam has become a much talked about issue recently, due to the leakage of question papers every day before the examination. Despite a series of initiatives taken by the government, whatever it is doing to plug the leaks, is looking half baked.
Prohibiting internet connection speed across the country for a certain period of time was one of the significant steps taken by Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BRTC) as an immediate remedy to bring the leaks to an end. Although it was suspended later, the nation has stirred up with an assortment of reactions as they believe interrupting internet speed would not bring any change except losing international business. IT experts are in fact trying to look at different avenues of technology itself to prevent it in future.
The current situation can be combated through technology. However the question is, do we really want to do so? For that, we first have to acknowledge where our drawbacks lie.
In this regard, a round-table titled 'Question paper leak disaster: Reason, Investigation and technological solution', jointly organized by Bangladesh ICT Journalist forum, Jaago Foundation, Poriborton Chai and Dhaka university IT Forum, was held on February 14 at BASIS Conference Hall.
Addressing the issue as a national crisis Fahim Mashroor, Co-Founder and CEO of BDjobs.com, said “Without trying to find out the root cause of it all, we just decided to blame technology. The reason behind such an incident is the mistreatment of technology. But we have to rewind the scenario by using technology in order to prevent question leaks in future for the sake of our nation.”
Raising concern about the process of preparing question papers, Mir Shahrukh Islam, Head of Operations and Co-founder, Bondstein Technologies Ltd pointed out BG press as partially risky and secretary of exam center as the most risky level. He believes that ineffective central monitoring system, minimal use of technology and moral decay among citizens are responsible for this situation.
The current situation can be combated through technology. However the question is, do we really want to do so?
Out of his experience from working at Digital Box to prevent leakage of MBBS exam questions, Mir Shahrukh thinks it is impossible for us to move ahead without technology. He said, “Technology that worked for one public exam might not be applicable for another, since each exam has its own diversified characteristic.”
Russel T Ahmed, CEO, Champs21 believes, all the steps between preparing questions and the examinees can be digitalized. In his opinion, preparing multiple question sets under a data system, and making the final one through algorithm could be a solution. “Assuring data security in different layers reduces the risk of leakage. Many countries are using such technologies,” he said. “The government can later decide whether to outsource the technology or use local entrepreneurs at a low cost,” he added.
Russel also believes that being one of the biggest sectors of investment in national budget, the education ministry can think about introducing a budget in order to make the system more technologically sound.
One of the biggest concerns regarding the system is that it focuses more assessment rather than being based on evaluation. “As a consequence of that, besides students, parents are also looking for questions so that their children could earn GPA 5,” added Russel.
Fida Haque, Chairman, Poriborton Chai, said “What we are planning and proposing are based on the assumption of the existence of strong and progressive internet connection in our country. However, this is merely a myth. I doubt how many locations are provided with proper 3G. Here we are talking about decentralizing printing solutions, intelligence safe, IUT, while the government clearly fails to provide proper internet infrastructure.”