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CBSE paper leak: Board struggles to contain fallout as anxious students, parents fret over uncertain future

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Even as the CBSE attempts to contain the fallout of the paper leaks, the questions about the future of the students who are suffering and the integrity of the board loom large.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Nearly 16 lakh students on the verge of taking admission in Class XI after clearing their board exams in May are now uncertain about their future: The board is yet to declare the date of re-test for the mathematics paper. On the other hand, worries about the integrity of the CBSE abound as many are not satisfied with the way the probe is being carried out.

“The board has not announced the dates about when the re-test of the mathematics exam will be held. My daughter should be taking admission in Class XI by May. But I do not know whether I will be able to get her admitted as there is no declaration whether re-test for the paper and announcement of result will be done before the deadline”, said Gautam Seth, whose daughter studies in CL Bhalla School in Delhi.

Students and parents were shocked after news broke that the mathematics question paper of Class X and economics paper of Class XII held last month were leaked.

Soon, the Union HRD Secretary Anil Swaroop declared at a press conference that the re-test of the economics paper would be held on 25 April, but the same for the Class X mathematics paper could not be held before July.

Stating that the leak of the Class X mathematics paper was limited to only Delhi/NCR and Haryana he said, “If at all the re-examination has to be held in Delhi/NCR and Haryana it would be held in July.” This caused panic among students and parents as by that time admissions to Class XI would be over.

The announcement further panicked students who are deciding on their future and seeking admission in Class XI before May. “My family is under tremendous pressure as it is uncertain whether my daughter will be able to take admission”, Seth added.

He also recalled that his daughter was unwell on the day the mathematics exam was held, but she took the exam as she’d prepared for it the entire year.

“She came out of the examination hall weeping because she learnt that many students knew the questions beforehand. They were confident that they would score far higher than her even they did not work as hard”, Seth lamented.

Advocate Ashok Agarwal, who filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Delhi High Court demanding that the re-test be held in April and a court monitored inquiry into the leak, said, “The conditions of the students who wished to study abroad after Class X is even more worrisome, as the last date for admission in many foreign institutions may pass by if the re-test is done in July.”

SK Bhattacharjee, an educationist and administrator of the Bal Bharti School said, “Students who wish to go abroad after Class X have to prepare for entrance exams. But now they are burdened with the responsibility of preparing for the re-test.”

Students and teachers are also worried about the way the probe for the leak of question paper is being conducted. “We know some students and teachers are facing investigation. But was not it the responsibility of the CBSE to conduct the exam in a free and fair manner? What action has been initiated to find out the root cause of the leak?” he asked.

Bhattacharjee wondered how the CBSE was going to ensure such incidents did not reoccur if they could not discover the root cause of the leak.

The Delhi Police arrested two teachers and one coaching centre owner who allegedly leaked the Class XII economics paper on 26 March and Class X mathematics paper on 28 March.

Professor Janaki Rajan, former director of State Council of Educational Research and Training, Delhi, said over the years, the CBSE had fine-tuned its processes and retained its credibility. However, the recent regime change at the Centre also brought changes at the helm of several institutions, including CBSE. Processes such as multiple question papers, use of nationalised banks for safekeeping of papers were changed, Rajan stated.

“CBSE is occupied with entrance examinations for higher education, which is not its mandate. It is high time the CBSE re-focused on children and their certification as its sole purpose”, she added.


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