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Leaks of questions: A digital remedy

Hussain Imam | February 20, 2018 00:00:00

The country's education is in dire strait or should I say in doldrums. If education is the backbone of a nation, the backbone of Bangladesh is sure to become too weak and fragile to help the nation stand on its own feet. The reasons are many. Poor infrastructure, substandard text books, inappropriate curriculum, lack of qualified teachers, corruption, coaching business, thoughtless examination system are here to mention a few. The latest and probably the most alarming addition to the malaise is the endless leakage of questions for examinations.

Leakage of questions from primary school to the examinations for country's civil service has become the norms of the day. During the ongoing Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and equivalent exams, questions are being leaked and posted to face book and other social media by a group of apparently well organised miscreants using modern-day information technology. Leakage of question papers is not entirely a new phenomenon. It has been these since mid-70s but never so menacing as it is now.

It is a malaise with no sign of remedy in sight. Every other day, the education minister is coming up with uproars and warning against the wrongdoers but to no effect.

The scenario, as it stands now, raises serious questions in the public mind as to the ability of the education ministry and, for that matter, the Education Minister in running the affairs of such an important ministry like education. No wonder, the other day a parliament member on a point of order had asked for replacement of the Education Minister. The minister has neither resigned nor been asked to do so.

Resignation of the Education Minister might not be a solution of the problem by itself. It could be a beginning. There are so many other things to attend to. First of all, we got to find out the root cause and source of the leaks.

In this digital age, apart from prohibiting mobile phones in and around the examination centres, it may not be an unrealistic idea to connect all the centres directly with computers having internet connection so that questions can be selected by a high-powered central committee from a number of sets and sent directly to the centres just half-an-hour before the exam starts. The Head of the examination centre will then download the question paper from the computer, make necessary copies and send to the examination halls minutes before the start of the examination. This way, the chance of leaking out the question can possibly be reduced to almost nil.

The best is to dig into the flaws of the education system itself. The public examination method--right from the preparation of syllabus, selection of text books, setting up of question papers to taking the exams and evaluation of the answer sheets-- has gone through many trial and error methods over the years without achieving any tangible result. The entire education system needs to be redefined if we have to build a nation full of wisdom and potential.

Capt. Hussain Imam is a retired merchant navy officer.

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