The SSC and equivalent examinations have started across the country from February 01 and more than twenty lakh students are participating in these examinations. On the second day of the exam 89 students were expelled and more than ten thousand students remained absent.
Frustration does not end here. Question papers of both the first and second paper of Bengali were leaked and exams were conducted on the basis of the leaked question papers. So far, examinations have been marked by the leaking of questions of all the subjects, copying in the examination halls and teachers being chased and beaten for not allowing to copy and so on. The leaked questions were available in many Facebook groups openly that raises questions in people’s mind ‘will questions be sold openly like newspapers in the market?’
The authorities of higher educational institutions, different appointing authorities and the people of all levels have lost their trust and faith in the assessment system of our country several years back. Still public examinations take place across the country with much hue and cry and students collect certificates from the education boards. What is the necessity of conducting these kinds of examinations at the cost of huge national labour and cost, students and guardians’ trouble? Emeritus Professor Serajul Islam Chowdhury says, “People don’t have any trust in the examinations of the existing education system. It seems to be based mainly on examination, not acquiring knowledge.” The ministry of education has expressed their helplessness to stop leaking questions. They, of course, had so long been denying the fact claiming that ‘no question leaking is taking place’ in the country. However, for the first time they have admitted that question papers leakage is taking place and announced a bounty of Tk 5 lakh for helping catch the culprits and formed an 11-member probe body to investigate the allegations.
In the case of the first three tests, the leaked questions of English first and second paper were circulated in the social media and messenger groups on 7 February. Pictures of the question of ‘Kha’ set were found on several Facebook pages about 45 minutes before the exam began at 10.00 am. However, one of the screenshots containing the questions of ‘Kha’ set had been circulated in a secret WhatsApp group since 4.11am. Some of the leaders were seen bragging on Facebook when the test was still going on. They claimed that they had again been successful in leaking the questions and promised questions of future SSC tests.
On 03 February the Minister for Primary and Mass Education was coming from Rupnarayankura Union to Nalitabari after inaugurating a government primary school. Suddenly his fleet of cars stopped when he saw ‘Kadamtali Government Primary School’ standing beside the road. He directly went to class four and asked the students to write ‘four’ on the board but none could do it. However, he asked them to utter/tell ‘four’ that also remained unanswered. He then went to class three and asked one student to write ‘three’ and he could do it. The minister then asked him who teaches him at home. He answered that his father teaches him at home. The minister then told the head teacher and other teachers the boy has learnt writing three from his father what they teach in the school as he asked the same spelling to another fifteen students to write ‘two’ but none could. The minister then expressed his utter frustration saying ‘this is the actual picture of rural areas. What is the necessity of talking about quality education?’
Thanks to the minister for making time to see for himself the real picture of rural schools. I wish if our education minister could make time to see what is happening in the secondary schools and colleges of the country. What our students learn in the educational institutions and what results they make in the public examinations should have been seen practically by them. We see percentages of pass of all levels near hundred per cent and the students the minister saw would make the same result in the coming public examinations. Many of them will get GPA-5 even. Where is the magic? Conscious people of the country know the secret of the magic and so they have lost faith in the existing assessment process. Now what to do, how to do? Should we surrender ourselves to this situation? We must not.We cannot say that the students who failed to write or spell ‘two, three and four’ don’t have merits. Definitely they have merits. Their merit and talent lie hidden in them and it is the duty of the teachers, school, society and state to help bloom their talent but none of these institutions could do it though it is the prime objective of students’ going to school and getting education. These students will of course show their talent when they leave schools and start doing something other than schooling. Many of our people exhibit their talents in other situations both at home and abroad though they remained neglected in the educational institutions.
All these examples tell us that the education boards should be freed from state control. There should be separate and absolutely professional entities to assess the skills and knowledge of the learners who are the future leaders of the county. New kind of education boards should be established which will work to maintain global standard of assessment. The results and standard of ‘O’ Level and ‘A’ Level tests can be mentioned in this connection. We also know IELTS, TOEFL, GRE are assessment tests. On the basis of the score obtained by the test takers in these tests, foreign universities enrol students. No separate admission test is required for the students. If we can introduce such kind of examination boards namely two or three in the country, there will be a competition among them and we will have a leak-proof assessment system. Fully professional people will work there like many other non-governmental organisations with professionalism. Our universities conduct separate tests for getting students enrolled. If global standard boards can be established, they will not need to conduct extra admission tests.
If we look at the example of Great Britain what we see is that board officials conduct examinations, teachers have no scope to get involved except classroom teaching and preparing the students. One education institution can choose one or more education boards to assess their students’ skill in different subjects. Several education boards conduct GCSE or ‘O’ Level and ‘A’ Level exams. One education board takes eighteen months to twenty four months to prepare the question papers. Developing questions, solutions, quality control, review, proof reading, and printing – all these are done by experienced professionals of the education boards. They have their own printing machines. They send the exam scripts directly to the exam officials of the school. Questions are opened before the exam begins in presence of the invigilators and exam officials.
Invigilators are also employed by different agencies very professionally. Examination officers send the answer scripts to respective education boards after the completion of the examinations. Education boards send the answer scripts to the selected examiners with mark scheme. Examiners are selected through different screening process. What happens in our country? The way we develop questions by the teachers of different educational institutions keeps ample scope to leak the questions. Again, we engage the whole administration, police administration, education administration, government printing, treasury and teachers who may not have experience or professionalism to conduct these affairs. We hastily publish exam results that also raise questions whether we are assessing students’ performance rightly.
We have several possible stages to leak questions such as –i) preparing and moderating questions by the teachers of several institutions ii) Composing, proof reading, printing and packaging leave ample scope to get the questions leaked (iii) keeping the questions in the treasury also have the possibility to get leaked and (v) engaging so many groups mentioned in the above paragraph to conduct the examinations who don’t have professional experience and ability to get involved in the assessment process. We can follow the relevant things from the global bodies to assess the skills and knowledge of our learners.
The writer works for BRAC Education
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