Madhyamik 2019, the first public examination, has been jinxed from the start ~ a symptom of the murk that plagues education in general. Blame it on high technology or the appalling indifference of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, there is no scope for a contrived alibi to underplay the images of question papers on the public domain almost immediately after these were distributed during the first two days via WhatsApp.
In a convoluted attempt at self-deception, the Board has drawn a fine distinction between the social media and a “question paper leak”. This is quibbling at its worst. It is amazing too for West Bengal’s education minister, Partha Chatterjee, to claim that he is “completely in the dark” about the preventive measures that the Board might have taken.
It will be hard to escape the conclusion that one hand doesn’t know what the other is up to. In point of fact, little or nothing has been prevented and the culprits have made a mockery of the order against carrying mobile phones to the examination hall. It was no less irresponsible on the part of the Board authorities to argue that there was nothing irregular about the images of question papers being on the public domain once the exam had started.
This is tantamount to defending the indefensible. It would be pertinent to recall that some years ago, “facilitators” of cheating in Bihar had scaled the walls of exam centres soon after the questions became a matter of public knowledge. The minister’s statement is neither here nor there ~ “We do not have a proper security system. But if we implement foolproof security we will be accused of police harassment. I feel that this is a deliberate attempt to malign us.”
The attitude is wimpish, to say the least. No one denies that the Board has cut a sorry figure; equally the mess is of its own creation. Both the Board and the minister have been equally ignorant of the coordinated fiddle, and there is now a desperate attempt to wriggle out of the scandal. Students in the transitional stage have again been let down by grown-ups entrusted with the conduct of the examination.
Reports suggest that the Board has failed to stop the use of mobile phones inside the examination venues. Clearly, the culprits have reduced the ban order to a joke and this year’s Madhyamik examination has thus far been a farcical exercise.
Once the results are declared, the marks in the Bengali and English papers will almost certainly be a subject of dispute. Minister Partha Chatterjee sounds pretty helpless when he remarks that it is “very unfortunate that the mobile phone has become the key operator in this crime”. The short point being that in West Bengal even the examination hall can be a centre of crime.