Monday, March 18th, 2013
Forty examination centres have been shuttered, teachers suspended, and frauds caught impersonating test takers. But the clean up of Punjab high school exams cheating needs to go back to first grade.
The Times of India newspaper reports the 2013 anti-cheating drive of the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) is exposing teachers in assisting students to commit fraud. This is nothing new. Just two years ago the Punjab and Haryana high court declared a “cheating mafia” operating in the PSEB.
The Punjab government’s raiding their own exams is fine, but the real problem may sit in their own offices. Several years ago, the Indian northern state of Punjab removed pass/fail assessments for all students up to Grade Eight. The idea was to that no student would be left behind a year, as they all pass into at least class nine. Politically it looked good as superficially they had huge numbers qualify for “high school” and post a greatly inflated literacy rate.
Of course huge numbers of students are utterly unprepared, though they are prepared to do what is termed as “the needful” in Punjab to pass a Class 10 board exam. The tenth class is the basic high school equivalency and its a requirement for the most entry level of jobs.
Students and families will do what it takes to pass, and if that means bribing or pressuring teachers to attain a Grade 10 certificate, so be it. If the Punjab government wants to seriously tackle the endemic cheating and fraud in the education and culture of its society, it should consider assessments in earlier grades which prepare students for the challenge and ramification of success or failure.
The same court which claimed a PSEB mafia might insinuate the Board is cultivating a culture of cheats for its own interest. “The disturbing feature is that the chairman of the board and other officials are party to such malpractice,” said the Court.
Ms. Amrita Mangat is Manager of the Canadian University Application Centre (CUAC) in Ludhiana, servicing the Punjab in India. She has been with the CUAC for seven years and previously held several leading posts in secondary education in Punjab.