Nation Other News 10 Jan 2017 PUC board all set to ...

PUC board all set to spring another leak?

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SHRINIVASA M
Published Jan 10, 2017, 2:51 am IST
Updated Jan 10, 2017, 3:37 am IST
Thousands of lives hang in the balance, but no lessons have been learned from last year.
Both the KSEEB and PU department intend to continue with their old manual question paper setting and distribution system. (Representational image)
 Both the KSEEB and PU department intend to continue with their old manual question paper setting and distribution system. (Representational image)

In 2016, the II PUC Chemistry paper was leaked not once but twice, causing protests across Karnataka.  The state education department then announced that it would go online to improve security, although no progress has been made since. The Karnataka Secondary Education Examination Board and Department of Pre-University Education are content with merely tweaking and retaining the old system. Thousands of lives hang in the balance, but no lessons have been learned from last year, reports Shrinivasa M.

Months have passed since the brouhaha over the leaked chemistry final year 2016 PUC papers that led to postponement of the examination not once but twice and  saw several high profile bureaucrats doing time behind bars for their involvement in the racket.

 

But the government, which had made several reassuring noises in the face of the protests that rocked the state in the aftermath of the leaks, seems to have conveniently forgotten all the promises made and appears to have learnt nothing from the anxiety they had caused a large number of PU students. Going by the  preparations being made by the state Pre-University department and the Karnataka Secondary Education Examination Board for the final examinations scheduled for March and April 2017, except for minor changes, the government is holding on to  the old examination system  with its glaring loopholes that had made the leaks possible.

 

The promises made by the then  state primary and secondary education minister , Kimmane Rathnakar to introduce radical changes in the examination system to make it foolproof appear to have been all but forgotten. Although the minister had talked about introducing an online question paper distribution system and creating a question paper bank, there is no sign of either with only a couple of months to go for the next final PU examination.

Going by sources in the state education department both the KSEEB and PU department intend to continue with their old manual question paper setting and distribution system.

 

“The same methodology will be followed in the preparation of the question papers. And they  will be delivered a day in advance as usual. The only change this year is that the question papers will be stored in the district treasuries and not the sub- treasuries like in the past. On the day of the examination these question papers will be transported to the examination centres,” explained an officer.

The state government, it's claimed, was ready to bring in radical changes in the immediate aftermath of  the question paper leak last year, but  dropped the idea once the minister and senior officials changed. “The same old reasons including cost factor, lack of infrastructure like a broadband connection and printing machines were given to drop  the reforms. The proposal to  use bank lockers for keeping the question papers safe was also rejected. The only good thing that has come out of the 2016 leak is that all the accused  are in prison,” observed an officer.

 

Not PU marks, only CET for engg seats?
Leaking science stream PU question papers is hugely lucrative as almost every parent is dying to see his son/ daughter do either medicine or engineering. Hefty sums were paid for the leaked question papers last year by those keen on bagging  medical seats for their children by hook or by crook.

But starting from 2017, the state government may consider only the CET marks for engineering ranking in the state, going by sources in the state higher education department. Said an officer, "We are planning to consider the marks in the II PUC final examination only for eligibility and  not for allotting CET ranks. The second PUC final marks are not considered for  ranks even in NEET UG because of the large scale irregularities in the final examinations not only in Karnataka but also other states,” said an officer. Education experts, however, believe the state government needs to more and overhaul the   examination system as promised.

 

"It had nearly a year to introduce an online digital question paper delivery system, but  showed no interest," regretted a retired officer, adding, "It is now saying that question papers will be kept in the district treasuries equipped with CCTV cameras. But there are tens of examples of malpractices being committed after switching off the CCTVs. The government needs to come out with  a better plan.”

Guest column: Exam boards should use technology, specialist service providers to reduce vulnerabilities, says Nagendran Sundararajan, Executive Vice President of MeritTrac
The increasing population and Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) has made most examinations in India voluminous , putting them under constant threat of malpractice much to the inconvenience to students and the examination body’s dismay.  Robust technology coupled with sound examination processes are required to make them foolproof.

 

Online Question Paper delivery can  plug all vulnerabilities in the system. When technology is being leveraged by fraudsters to breach the security of  examinations, it is important for examination boards to be aware of the possible vulnerabilities, refine processes to address them and leverage technology to secure the question papers. These agencies can also use the assistance of specialist service providers, who have experience in technology based delivery of question papers in high stake examinations.

We have developed a Just-in-Time Question Paper (JIT-QP)  solution that is designed to secure examinations from vulnerabilities at various stages such as question paper development, printing, and logistics and storage. Online Question paper delivery is possible irrespective of the number of students writing the examination. But it will be effective only if there is the required infrastructure to print as many questions as needed in a short time

 

Going by our experience, the major cost of Just- in- Time Question Paper delivery is in setting up the printing infrastructure at the test centre or various hubs chosen by the examination body. There is also the additional cost of Internet connectivity and maintaining physical security at the test centres with installation of CCTV cameras and information  systems.

Generators / invertors can be installed in test centres to make sure there is power when the question papers are being printed and  redundancy of network can be avoided with the help of multiple datacards / Internet Service Providers, which can also help address the need for Internet in a large number of test centres.

 

In  remote centres where Internet connectivity is weak, it is important to re-architect the solution and its deployment.

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