Education Minister apparently has expressed his helplessness in checking the leak of question papers for different examinations, once again holding a section of teachers responsible. “We got many suggestions on how to check question paper leak.
Even there were discussions to print question papers in the hall 30 minutes before the tests. But what is the benefit of doing so when the teachers leak the questions?” he said, after a joint meeting with a delegation of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) at the ministry’s conference room held on December 17.
Such frustrating remarks of the education minister came on the heels of widespread allegations of leak in the question papers of all public examinations including JSC, SSC and HSC, medical college and university admission tests, and government banks’ recruitment examinations over the last few years. Sadly, the government denied the leak of question papers in most of the cases. The allegations of question paper leak were widespread during the recently concluded JSC examinations and at the time the minister blamed teachers for it.
The education minister also said, ‘’We’re supposed to feel secured when we hand over questions to the teachers. But, some teachers leak questions just after receiving the questions on the examination day.’ The minister alleged that a section of teachers does not teach in classrooms. Rather, they do it at their home or coaching centres. He also said that the education ministry will work together with the ACC to resolve problems in the education sector. The minister said they could not take any measures against coaching centres due to lack of proper laws. Once the education act is passed, it would be possible to take steps, he added.
An ACC delegation led by one of its commissioners submitted its report along with a 39-points recommendation to the ministry. In the report, the corruption watchdog said that government officers and staff are involved in every stage of the question paper, from preparation to distribution. It recommended employing honest and meritorious teachers in the preparation of questions, reducing the number of examination centres and keeping those in upazila towns.
Question paper leak could not be prevented although the education ministry took several measures to do it. The ACC, in a recent report has pointed fingers at officers in the education board, BG Press and other government officials for their involvement in question paper leak. The ACC has blamed question paper leaks for a gradual morass in the education system. The ACC report said the leaks of question papers was due to the probable nexus between coaching centres, fraudulent teachers and different criminal gangs, and some corrupt officials of the education board, BG Press, Treasury and examination centres.
The youths were the worst sufferers of the menace, it added. The report was prepared by the anti-corruption watchdog’s “Education related Organisational Team” formed with the purpose to curb corruption in education system.
The question paper of class-I and IV in the school final examinations was allegedly leaked in Barguna Sadar, only a few days back, prompting the authorities concerned to postpone examinations in all 248 primary schools. A day earlier, question papers of classes II-IV examinations in Munshiganj were also leaked.
The Deputy Commissioner stopped the examinations of classes II-IV in all the 119 primary schools under the upazila. The final examinations of mathematics for class-I and class-IV were suspended recently at all the 123 primary schools of Natore Sadar as leaked question papers of the examinations were recovered from a primary school.
It makes us really shocked as and when the chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on primary and mass education says that the government was not responsible for the question paper leak of primary schools. Such unjustified statement was made by him in a meeting held on December 19, as the examinations were held up in some districts because of question paper leak. He tried to explain that, as the question papers were prepared at a local level, the government was not responsible for this question paper leaks. But the government cannot evade responsibility for the question papers leak, as the local education officers, who were involved in preparing question papers are the part of the government.
According to a study carried by the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), the trend of question paper leak can be traced as far back as the SSC examination of 1979. But all the time it was being denied by the authorities concerned. The question paper of Gha unit of the admission test held in October this year, was reportedly leaked. But the Dhaka University authorities denied the leaking of question papers. Question paper of some subjects of this year’s SSC and HSC examinations were also widely circulated openly in Facebook. Such denial of truth by the concerned authorities has aggravated the whole situation of question paper leak.
Special branch of police has arrested some individuals including two student leaders, for their involvement in DU university admission questions paper leak in the year 2015 and 2016. Ironically, an Assistant Commissioner of Taxes department allegedly found to be a mastermind of a question paper leak gang of medical and dental college admission tests. Rab captured several cheques amounting to taka one crore seven lakh from him. According to media report, this gang earned taka four crore 57 lakh 25 thousand this year alone through question paper leak of medical and dental college admission tests.
The ACC has presented at least 39 recommendations pertaining to question paper leaks, coaching centres, notes and guidebooks, monthly pay order (MPO)-listed private educational institutes and the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCBT). On coaching and note-guidebook business, the ACC report blamed greed among some teachers and owners of coaching centres to make a quick buck, the lack of monitoring of educational activities and unawareness of guardians. The watchdog recommended the setting up of education-monitoring committees at metropolitan, district and upazila levels. Such committees would ensure classroom teaching, transfer of government high school teachers and prevent the incidents of teachers of a particular subject from teaching other subjects to pupils.
Fee textbook distribution among the pre-primary, primary, secondary, ibtedayi, dakhil, dakhil vocational, SSC vocational, small anthropological groups and visually challenged students across the country is a major step towards spread of education. Surely, these measures will help a lot in spreading of education in different level. The country has also achieved a lot in terms of providing education to its largely backward masses during the last four decades. The curse of illiteracy is gradually leaving our society.
Even a decade ago, the rate of girl children attending school was much lower. The efforts of inclusive education both by the government and non government organizations are showing good results. The number of dropouts is decreasing every year. Providing free textbooks up to secondary level and stipends to the poor and meritorious students up to degree level are indeed very positive developments in our public education system.
Question papers leak from BCS examinations to all public examinations including JSC, SSC and HSC, medical college and university admission tests, and government banks’ recruitment examinations has become a common phenomenon in the recent days. The latest turn in the trend has gone down to the level of primary school examinations, which is leaving a very negative image about the country’s education system to the outside world. The huge investment of the government in the education sector will be meaningless if the government fails to prevent it.
The question paper leak has already taken an epidemic-like dimension and deserves immediate attention from the authorities concerned. Today it threatens to engulf the entire education system. The government and the administration must take the responsibility for the question papers leak and zero tolerance must be exercised to combat the situation. Unless the appropriate action is taken against the culprits immediately, the situation may go totally out of hand. It may also fadeout all the success of the government in the education sector.
The writer is a columnist