The questions are easy, the answers are known

Sarfuddin Ahmed | Update:

By leaking out hundreds of thousands of files in America, Wikileaks created quite a sticky situation. There’s no saying how many people found themselves in dire straits every time a document was leaked out. Their clandestine wealth, their women and their wine, all came out into the open. As a fallout, some lost their jobs, some lost their wives and some lost their places in cabinet. And people applauded. This was good. Nothing should be kept a secret. Everyone has the right to information. Information belongs to all.

Words of wisdom, for sure.

In fact, our education ministry has taken these words of wisdom to heart. Our government has grasped the gravity of the words. Not only have they understood the words themselves, they have made us comprehend it all too, in no uncertain terms.

It is all clear as mineral water to us now. Exam question papers are files replete with information. These papers are universal. These must be aired in the open, not put into cold storage. Whether a meritorious student or a dunce, everyone has the right to these question papers before the exam.

The nerds can’t be allowed to cram their brains alone, pouring over their studies day and night, while the dull and the dim float around vacantly. It is imperative for the question papers to be leaked out. Just like wealth, there must be an equal distribution of education. Our slogan should be ‘Leak out the questions, give them away.’

It is not for nothing that we change exam systems every year, bestow coveted GPA-5 grades on all and sundry and remain totally unmoved by question paper leaks. There is certainly a sense of devout duty involved here. Why should all this be questioned?

If the education system can continue in this manner for a few more years, this land of ours will soon be filled with a generation of hybrid vertebrates, having nothing but cow dung in their heads. All of them will pass with flying colours but remain uneducated. Our homes, streets, offices and institutions will teem with highly educated people. The world will see that we have fulfilled the millennium development goals. This generation who have had the benefit of passing the exams with question papers in advance, will have everything, except the ability to question.

If question papers are leaked out one after the other in front of them, they will have no questions of their own. Millions of taka will be siphoned off from banks and the share market in front of their eyes, but they will remain silent. There will be election engineering, ballot boxes will be snatched away in broad daylight during the elections, but they will not question all this. It’s like the same player being a striker and a goalkeeper – the same party will be both the treasury bench and the opposition in parliament, but no one will raise any question. Disappearances, killings, crossfire, death in police custody, all this will be as regular as sunrise and sunset, but they will not question. Foreign countries will fight to take over the share market of a sovereign state, they will have no questions. People will be burned alive in the name of struggles and strikes, but no questions will be asked.

As part of a far-reaching blueprint, a strange, weird and mute race will be reared, who will lack the capacity to question. But those who have managed to pass the exams with leaked question papers, will not comprehend a thing. And so they will remain mute.

The human race is strange indeed. The more educated one is, the more dangerous they will be. In the words of Heerak Raja, “The more they read, the more they know, the less they obey.” And that is why a strategy of leaking out questions has been adopted, so that they cannot turn treacherous, cannot question, but simply acquiesce to everything with a subservient ‘Yes sir!’ And we happily say, “Do in Rome as the Romans do.”

It is clear that an eclipse has entered our lives. Janaki was freed from Dashanan’s grasp, Jonah was swallowed by a fish but then freed. But we have no such release. Wherever the light of education enters through the windows of this forsaken nation, a merciless adversity rears its head.

The stance adopted by the highest level of government regarding the question paper leaks makes it very clear that there will be no post mortem of the failure to tackle this issue. Like in Nirmalendu Goon’s poem, we will just have to lament with the heartrending sorrow of an old grave. Our defeat will be scoffed at, but we will not be able to question.

Sarfuddin Ahmed is a journalist and can be reached at This column, originally published in Prothom Alo Bangla print edition, has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir.

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