Why punish students for PU Board's failure?

The PU Board may have expected brownie points for promptly cancelling Monday's Chemistry examination after Sunday's question paper leak.

First, the PU Board failed, not for the first time, in its duty to ensure an examination process free of mal-practice. Now, it has decided what the remedy for its own failure should be — punish lakhs of students by forcing them to sit for a re-examination, that too on a date of its choosing. Quite obviously, it doesn’t care about the demoralisation and the damage it causes to students, who must go through a two-month long pressure-cooker situation writing a dozen intensely competitive admission tests at this stage, but can it even guarantee there will be no repeat of the paper-leak episode for the re-exam when there is no change in its attitude, methods or competence?

The PU Board may have expected brownie points for promptly cancelling Monday’s Chemistry examination after Sunday’s question paper leak on WhatsApp, but it clearly had no clue about student sentiment. Wednesday saw hundreds of students venting their frustration at having to do a re-exam before the PU board in Malleswaram.

“Why should 1.74 lakh students pay for the mistakes of a few?” demanded one of the agitating students, Ashok Kumar, from a PU college in Yelahanka. “Why should I have to do a re-exam when I have prepared for every subject over the last year. I was happy to get an easy paper for Chemistry, which is a tough subject. But unfortunately my happiness did not last long as on reaching home after writing my exam I learnt it had been cancelled and I had to re- appear for it,” he lamented.

Not just students, but their parents too are upset over the cancellation. Ms Deepanjali of Malleswaram, whose daughter is appearing for the second year PU final examination, pointed out that not everyone had got the leaked question paper.

“ I have banned my daughter from using WhatsApp from the day she started her second year PUC classes. This is true for a majority of the students. So why should they all be punished? The state government could hold a re-examination for students from centres where the leaks originated. Every examination in the second year of PUC is like a litmus test. The tension the students undergo cannot be explained,” she said.

Many of the students and their parents also wanted the PU board to be liberal in the valuation of the Mathematics question paper. But despite the agitation and frayed nerves of the students, PU board officials remained adamant about holding a re-exam and refused to consider their views at a discussion that followed.

“As the qestion paper was circulated on WhatsApp it’s possible that thousands of students had access to it before the examination. It has given them an edge. When second year PUC Chemistry marks are taken into account when allotting CET ranking, genuine students may lose out if a re-exam is not held,” they reasoned, albeit unsuccessfully, as the students were in no mood to buy their stance.

Mysuru too saw a similar agitation on Wednesday with hundreds of protesting students submitting a memorandum to the district Deputy Commissioner demanding that the PU Board reconsider its decision to hold a re-exam for Chemistry.

How a question paper is prepared

  • Six subject lecturers with 15 to 20 years of teaching experience prepare a question paper.
  • They are not allowed to bring anything into the hall where the question paper is prepared or take anything out. Once they have done their job, they must submit the handwritten question paper to the authorities in a sealed cover.
  • One of these question papers is selected for printing.
  • The question papers are printed in a neighbouring state.
  • They are later locked in the local treasury and sent to the centres just a few hours prior to the examination.

Re-exam as per some babu’s convenience?
It’s not just the idea of a re-examination that has upset students, but also its timing as they will have to re-appear for the Chemistry examination on March 29, when they are appearing for the Kannada language examination a day before, on March 28, giving them very little time for preparation.

Member of the Legislative Council, Puttanna, feels the students are justified in feeling upset. “It is a bad idea to hold back to back examinations. The PU board must reconsider the date for the re-exam,” he said. Students also point out that they need to prepare for the JEE main (Off Line) examination scheduled for April 3.

“It is easy to say that you don’t need to prepare much for the re-examination. But April and May see every student appear for at least 10 to 12 admission tests, giving them little time to breathe. PU department officials are playing with the future of these students by failing to stop the leaking of question papers and then ordering a re- exam,” said Rashmi G, a II PUC science student.

Question paper leaks in the past
The year 2012 was the worst for the PU board with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics question papers being leaked, forcing it to reschedule all these examinations. The state government ordered a CID investigation and six officials, including some from the treasury department, were found guilty.

Board is playing with the future of students: Prof. Radhakrishna H.P., Academician
The recent Chemistry question paper leak should teach the PU board officials in particular and government boards in general a lesson as most are not aware of the methods used today by those involved in such rackets. The internet and other technology has made their job very easy now. The boards too must opt for digital technology to counter them.

With the cancellation of the Chemistry exam, most students rightly feel they are being penalised for no fault of theirs. Most parents don’t allow their children to use mobile phones with exams approaching as they need to focus on their studies. But these students are now being forced to do a re-examination although they had no access to the leaked paper on WhatsApp .

Also, April and May are very busy months as science students need to attend dozens of admission tests at this time. The board is therefore playing with the future of these students. But now that it has already announced the date for the Chemistry re-examination, nothing can be done. I can only hope there will be no such confusion the next academic year.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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