Examiners make profuse mistakes in counting the marks of the answer sheets of important public exams such as SSC and HSC. Officials of the education board, teachers and guardians say even more errors in the calculations would be caught if there was scope for the exam sheets to be re-evaluated.
This year alone, the marks of 4,312 examinees of the SSC exam were wrongly calculated, which was revealed after they appealed for their papers to be re-examined.
Among them, 647 received the highest GPA 5 score after the recalculation. In fact, 619 students who had been failed in the exam, were given pass marks after their papers were scrutinised again.
There were also objections to the results of the HSC exam published on 17 July this year. In Dhaka Board alone, 52,900 students applied for re-examination of their papers.
In the re-examination process, only the marks are recalculated. And not all students appeal for re-examination, even if they feel there is something wrong. It takes time and money. So eventually all the errors are not actually corrected.
With such miscalculations in the marks of the exam sheets, the students and others concerned feel even more errors would emerge if there was scope for actual re-evaluation of the papers. Many failed students would pass and the grades of many would change.
The board has no scope for re-evaluating the answer sheets. A writ petition has been filed in court for scope to have the answer sheets of these public exams to be re-evaluated.
Analysing results of three years
After collecting and analysing the results of Dhaka Board SSC (Secondary School Certificate) and HSC (Higher Secondary Certificate) exams held over the last three years, Prothom Alo found that the number of errors was not decreasing.
It was observed that over these three years, 310,483 examinees of the SSC and HSC exams had applied for re-examination of their papers. Of them, the marks of 9,831 students, that is 3.17 per cent of the applicants, were amended.
Following the amendment of the results, 1,187 students scored GPA 5. And 1,399 students who had been failed, then secured pass marks.
Jayanta Barman was one of the students who passed the exam after initially being failed. He had taken his SSC exam from a school in Jatrabari of the capital city. When the exam results were published on 6 May, he saw that he had been failed. He did not believe it and challenged the results. After re-examination, his results showed he had actually scored GPA 3.28.
Not all students who appeal for examination manage to have their marks changed. A number of students of Motijheel Ideal School and College were flabbergasted at the poor marks they secured in their English papers through these English version students were confident of having excelled.
Two such students, Nafis Sadik Bhuiyan and Ismail Khan, spoke to Prothom Alo about the matter. They said they had thought there may have been some miscalculation of their marks. But they couldn’t believe that 28 students of their school could have fared so poorly in the English exam. This would have a bad impact when they applied for higher studies. They want a re-evaluation of their papers, but the board does not permit this.
Chairman of the Dhaka Secondary and High Secondary Education Board, M Ziaul Haque, told Prothom Alo that the examiners must be given independence in evaluating the answer sheets. To ensure that there are no mistakes, alongside the examiners there is also the head examiner. After that if there are still mistakes, there is scope for re-examining the papers. But the law will need to be amended if the papers are to be re-evaluated.
Shortage of examiners and time
Officials of the education board said that every year the number of student is on an increase. At the same time, there is a shortage of qualified examiners. They have to check the papers and submit the results within 15 days. That is why there are so many errors.
There are also allegations regarding the accuracy of evaluation. The students bear the brunt of all this.
For every seven to eight examiners, there is a head examiner. There are two teachers under him. After examining the papers, the examiners hand these over to the head examiner. The marks are checked and the head examiner himself re-evaluates 12 per cent of the papers. It is said that these tasks are not performed properly.
Exams results are now published within two months of the exam being completed and that is why the examiners have to submit their results within 15 days.
Concerned officials tell Prothom Alo that it is hardly feasible for an examiner to accurately check 250 to 300 papers and submit these within just15 days. These examiners are teachers who also have to carry out their regular teaching duties and other responsibilities.
Demand for re-evaluation
Guardians, students, teachers and certain education board officials have said that re-examination is not enough because this simply entails recounting the marks. If an examiner mistakenly ascribes a zero mark to a correct answer, there is no scope to re-evaluate this.
Speaking to Prothom Alo on 17 July when the HSC results were published, education minister Dipu Moni said mistakes are unacceptable. Steps are being taken to ensure no errors are made.
However, she said, there is no scope to amend the law at the moment.
*The report, origianlly published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir