Is there a point to sitting examinations at all? The only reason students take them, it seems, is that they need a piece of paper that would make them eligible for higher education, or for a job.
A visit to examination centres here on Thursday seemed to point out that the copy mafia has become more power than the education department. Many people were seen standing outside these centres, ready to provide “logistical support,” as one of them put it, to candidates taking their SSC-I exams.
The students, however, had a different view of the matter. Some of them, when asked for the reason they use unfair methods during exams, said that if they don’t, they would lose out on marks to those that do use them. “Why am I supposed to feel bad about it, when my teachers don’t pay any attention towards our studies?” asked one such candidate.
While talking to The Express Tribune, X, whose son was taking the board exam, said, “I tear specific answers from the [study] guide and give it over to a peon, who will hand it over to my son.” This person added that he pays the staffer Rs100 per day to keep this system running smoothly.
However, the scenes described above fail to capture the drama that was taking place inside examination rooms. Candidates could be seen copying answers from materials that were smuggled in, which they then shared with each other. Some of them were brave enough to leave their seats to go and directly ask their fellow exam takers.
In the middle of this mayhem, a lone man was shouting in vain to bring order. “Performing duty during exams is becoming very difficult for teachers like me,” said the invigilator. When reminded of his authority to take away a candidate’s examination copy and sending him home, he replied, “We might be suspended and also lose out on our invigilation duties if we do that.”
“You never know about the connections of these candidates”, the poor fellow said.
While the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) Sukkur has formed 13 vigilance teams to visit examination centres and book students for cheating. BISE officials say that hundreds of students have been caught so far. Sources, however, add that senior BISE officials receive calls from some “influential people,” who vouch for invigilators to take a lenient view of unfair means used by some students.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2012.