The government has once again rejected the allegation of question paper leaks in a public examination when academicians are concerned that such insistence on denial by authorities is encouraging the culprits.
Academicians said that question paper leaks one after another had raised serious questions about the credibility of exams while the government’s denial was making the menace worse.
They said that senior official of the education ministry and the education boards were reluctant to admit the fact of question leaks as it would add to their failures in carrying out their duties properly.
‘The denial means that you are somehow covering up the heinous act,’ Dhaka University English professor Syed Manzoorul Islam told New Age on Friday.
‘People who are engaged in question leaks will feel more encouraged,’ he said.
He made the remarks after many guardians of Secondary School Certificate examinees had alleged that multiple choice questions of Bangla first paper exam got leaked on social media Thursday morning ahead of the scheduled exam start.
The question paper was reportedly made available on several Facebook pages about 9:30am, which matched the actual question paper given to examinees when the exam started at 10:00am.
‘If the actual question paper matched the one uploaded on Facebook, it is certainly a case of question leak,’ Manzoorul argued.
Education minister Nurul Islam Nahid on Thursday morning and Dhaka education board secretary and acting chairman Shahedul Khabir Chowdhury and inter-education boards controller of examinations convener Tapan Kumar Sarkar in the afternoon denied the allegation of leaks.
‘We have found that several MCQ questions matched with the paper given to candidates, but not entirely...,’ Shahedul told New Age on Friday when asked if the question paper was leaked.
‘We have handed over the names of Facebook pages to BTRC [Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission] and DB [Detective Branch of police] for investigation,’ he added.
‘No question leak took place,’ Tapan Kumar Sarkar told New Age on Friday.
Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, co-chair of the formulation committee of Education Policy 2010, said, ‘The authorities should not deny the allegation of question leak, rather they should investigate and be keen on taking strict measures for containing such leakages.’
Leakage of question papers of public exams has become a regular phenomenon in recent times with the government failings in taking protective measures to stop it, academicians said.
Allegations of question leaks of different papers of Primary Education Completion exams, Junior School Certificate exams, Higher Secondary Certificate and SSC exams in 2017 surfaced ahead of the tests.
A Transparency International Bangladesh study found in August 2015 that 63 question papers of public exams were leaked in four years. The study observed that although question leaks had happened since 1970s, ‘in the past five years it became a regular phenomenon’.
Anti-Corruption Commission in December last year had sent a set of recommendations to education ministry asking it to close down coaching centres as they were one of the potential sources of question leakage.
The English second paper test in 2014 HSC exams was postponed following allegations that the questions had been leaked.
Question papers for 2014 SSC exams were also reportedly leaked. In December and November 2013, question papers for some subjects of PEC and JSC exams were also reportedly leaked.
The government rejected the allegations in all the cases.
‘I really do not understand why the authorities are failing to contain the leaks,’ said Kholiquzzaman, also chairman of Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation.
Professor Manzoorul hoped that the authorities would come out from the denial and explore the ways to stop it and give exemplary punishments for the culprits.
‘There should be a high powered committee to investigate the allegations thoroughly and work independently and their recommendations must be acted upon, he suggested.
He suspected that some strong players and possibly a syndicate with a strong network were behind the leaks.
He suggested the government should move away from using MCQ any more in public exams.
BRAC University Institute of Educational Development professor emeritus Manzoor Ahmed said that as the exams had turned into a high-stake competition in the country, the question leaks became a dangerous incentive.
‘The government lacks efficiency in its approach in containing question leaks, arresting culprits,’ he said, ‘if you deny any problem, you cannot control it’.
He proposed for overhauling the testing and evaluation system.
Transparency International Bangladesh executive director Ifthekharuzzman said that no one could deny that fraud was taking place centring the public exams. ‘The government should not flatly deny, rather they should investigate the matter,’ he said.
‘There was no question leak. Write whatever you like’ Tapan Kumar Sarkar said when asked if authorities’ denial was encouraging the incidences of question leak.