Stem the rot in the exam system : The Tribune India

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Stem the rot in the exam system

Stem the rot in  the exam system

Chetana Vaishnavi

DECADES ago, I was sitting on the front bench during an exam in Class V when I saw a classmate copying from a textbook. I stood up and alerted the teacher: ‘Miss… Uday is cheating.’ She simply ignored me. I went back to my seat but couldn’t concentrate on the question paper. Boldly, I again apprised the teacher, who was sitting on a chair, of my classmate’s illegal means to pass the exam. There might have been several Udays in the class, copying from textbooks, but I was unaware of them. My second pleading made the teacher assert without rising from her chair: ‘Uday, please don’t copy!’

Recently, the CBSE suggested an open-book exam for English, mathematics and science for Classes IX and X, and for English, mathematics and biology for Classes XI and XII in selected schools on a trial basis. If copying is permitted in such important exams, won’t it make things too easy for the students?

Exams evaluate one’s knowledge. In the race to acquire more marks, knowledge is often the first casualty. A topper is not a person with high marks but one who is successful in life. When parents put pressure on children, some of them adopt unfair means to get good marks. Even though the quality of education is worsening, the marks obtained by students are rising exponentially. Learning is more important than marks. Some teachers help students cheat so as to improve their school’s performance. Cheating in exams is nothing but academic dishonesty. The Vyapam scam pertained to exams for the selection of medical students and state government employees in Madhya Pradesh. It operated successfully for two decades before being unearthed in 2013. The exams were taken by lakhs of students each year, many of whom were paid proxies of undeserving aspirants. Other tricks used by the fraudsters included copying and tampering with answer sheets. The scam also led to several ‘unnatural’ deaths of persons involved in it.

Last year, mass copying in the Class XII physics exam was detected in a Pune school; nine teachers were booked. Earlier this year, the Class XII biology and mathematics papers of the Uttar Pradesh board exams were reportedly leaked on WhatsApp. Rampant cheating was witnessed in Nuh during the Haryana board exams. People brazenly scaled walls to pass on answer chits to students.

Strict rules and regulations are a must to prevent cheating in exams. The Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, includes provisions for stringent penalties, hefty fines and imprisonment for people involved in using unfair means. This law has been enacted to bring greater transparency, fairness and credibility to the public examination system. Hope it will help curb the menace of copying.

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