Green Flag for Cheat Champs

By a staff reporter

Are the Days of MASS CHEATING of the Seventies coming back in Bengal today?



    Education minister Bratya Basu has called mass cheating in Madhyamik 2012 “a stray incident” and rejected an official request for extra security to prevent the Higher Secondary exams from becoming a farce.

    “If someone has sought the services of the CRPF to combat cheating, it should be viewed as his/her personal comment. The department does not subscribe to this,” minister Basu said on the sidelines of the 28th annual general conference of the All Bengal State Government College Teachers’ Association.

    The president of the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education, Muktinath Chatterjee, had requested paramilitary deployment in examination centres with a history of mass cheating in the wake of a spike in such instances in Madhyamik this year.

    Last year’s higher secondary exams had seen RAF personnel being deployed at a centre in Jagaddal, in North 24-Parganas, after a mob almost barged into the premises carrying pieces of paper containing answers for the examinees.

    Madhyamik this year has seen a four-fold increase in the number of complaints about mass cheating. “If use of unfair means was reported from 50 centres last year, this year’s tally has been 200,” said a senior official of the secondary education board.

    An official in the school education department said that in previous years, mass cheating was restricted to Murshidabad, Malda and the border areas of North 24-Parganas. This year, use of unfair means in Madhyamik has been rampant in districts hitherto not affected by the problem, he said.

    Higher Secondary officials apparently consulted their counterparts in the Madhyamik board before deciding to request for the deployment of CRPF teams at centres where mass cheating has been taking place.

    The council identified 100 centres out of a total of 1,730 as sensitive, spread across Murshidabad, Howrah, Malda, North Dinajpur, Purulia, West Midnapore, Bankura, Birbhum and parts of North and South 24-Parganas.

    Minister Basu said the “existing law and order machinery should be enough to tackle the problem even in sensitive centres”, contradicting not only the Higher Secondary council president but also his own department.

    On February 28, school education secretary Bikram Sen had written to the district magistrates, superintendents of police and secondary education board president Chaitali Dutta, reminding them about the need to implement “stringent measures” to curb cheating in Madhyamik, which ends on March 7.

    A senior official of the Higher Secondary council said the experience of Madhyamik 2012 had proved that the local police were ineffective in most places and that a “neutral” force was essential, as in elections, to keep habitual cheaters in check.

    He warned that cheating would be even harder to curb in the Higher Secondary exams without extra security. “The Higher Secondary exams are a career-defining stage for students. So cheating is even more rampant than in Madhyamik.”

    The secondary education board had made elaborate anti-cheating arrangements this year, including deputing personnel armed with cameras and teams of special observers, comprising district magistrates, at some centres. “All these measures haven’t made much of a difference. So you can imagine the seriousness of the problem,” a Higher Secondary official said.

    Although the Madhyamik board had asked examinees not to carry cellphones to the examination halls, there has been no frisking to find out whether everyone is abiding by it.

    A senior education department official said minister Basu was downplaying the extent of the problem to protect the government’s image after a series of setbacks in recent weeks.

    “If the CRPF were to be deployed for exams, people would start equating it with a general decline in law and order. It is obvious he (Basu) is wary of questions being raised about the state administration’s ability to hold examinations in a fair manner,” he added.

Courtesy: The Telegraph


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