12 question papers leaked in 17 days

The Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and equivalent examinations ended on Saturday with a record number of question paper leaks this year.

Question papers of 12 compulsory subjects of the examinations were leaked despite almost a dozen of initiatives by the government including a bounty of half a million taka for anyone who helped catch an exam paper leaker.

A total of 153 people were arrested till Thursday for their alleged involvement with the question paper leak. The government identified six possible ways on how the question papers were leaked, but it failed to find the source of the leaks.

The education ministry has taken various plans like preparing questions just before next year’s SSC examinations by creating a ‘question bank’ using software, withdrawing Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) system, and also having massive changes in the examination system.

Educationists said the examination system should not be changed overnight.

The education ministry on 4 February formed a committee led by secretary of Technical and Madrasa Division Md Alamgir, to scrutinise the allegations of question paper leakage.

The committee found initial evidence of question paper leaks, however failed to decide whether the examination should be cancelled.

A member of the committee said the they will meet for the third time today (Sunday) to take a decision.

A number of education ministry and Dhaka education board officials said they are not in favour of cancellation of the examinations. According to them, the question paper was leaked just hours before the examinations and so did not have much of an impact.

The High Court appointed two separate committees-judicial and administrative-to probe the question paper leak.

The administrative committee is led by M Kaykobad, professor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) while the other one is led by the Dhaka district and sessions judge.

A member of the administrative committee, Mohammad Sohel Rahman, a BUET professor, on Saturday said he received the attested copy of the court order. He also said that he is currently working unofficially as the committee is yet to be formed fully.

The written SSC examination of the eight education boards of the country started on 1 February that ended on this Saturday (24 February). Practical examinations started on Sunday.

Various initiatives of the government, like keeping the coaching centres closed seven days before the examinations, and to bar the examinees from carrying any mobile phones inside the examination centres, went in vain as it was not effective in stopping the question paper leak.

Former chairman of Dhaka education board and former director general of Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education, Fahima Khatun said, despite arresting a number of people, it was a failure not able to reach the main source of question paper leak. She also said new system might help to stop the question paper leak, however, it would not be effective if the source was not found. She also said transparency among the board officials and the examination related officials was important.