Students appearing for a HSC exam. File pic
Are they wearing two hats? That’s the question the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) needs to answer decisively before setting off the process of question-paper setting, as allegations have surfaced that teachers called in for this duty also include some who work on content committees for guide book and study material publishers. With that, the threat of question paper leak looms very large, yet again.
Bear in mind that for two years consecutively, there have been leak reports in the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examination. One of the teachers from an Andheri school said, “How can a teacher who is already working for a private publisher be part of such a sensitive process? Lakhs of students appear for state board examinations. If there is any paper leak, it can have massive impact. Ideally, teachers themselves should disclose if they are attached to a private publisher. Even if the teacher is not going to indulge in malpractices, setting of question papers has to be a discreet process.”
Officials claim that though the practice is against the board norms, there is no mandatory disclosure policy that begets a teacher drafted for the process to disclose their other alliances, relying solely on their testimony. “The board should be more cautious and design a mechanism to ensure that teachers who will be setting state board exam question papers are not writing for any private publishers. As per the current process, the board seems to be depending only on information provided by the teacher,” said another senior teacher from a Dahisar school.
When contacted, S Chandekar, secretary of Mumbai Division of state board, said, “We have been notified about this, but all teachers called for duty are selected from government-approved schools and the list of qualified senior teachers available with the board. Each division forwards such a list to the head office, following which, committees of question paper setters are formed that includes teachers from anywhere across Maharashtra.”
However, he added that this year, the board was taking extra precautions to ensure that there is no encore of the last two years and checking with the teachers drafted. “We are certainly being more cautious, but to probe further, there has to be a proper complaint in writing with specific details. In that case, a teacher in question can be removed from this duty. Yet, we have only received informal verbal complaints till now that can’t really be acted upon.”