Amid frequent allegations of leaking question papers of public and recruitment exams and the government's repeated denials, eminent citizens yesterday staged a sit-in in the capital yesterday protesting the leaks.
The protest coincides with an alleged leak of Multiple Choice Questions of yet another recruitment test in Rajshahi yesterday.
There have been widespread allegations that questions of a number of papers in the recently held Secondary School Certificate and the ongoing Higher Secondary Certificate examinations were leaked.
Alongside hardcopies, the questions were leaked allegedly on Facebook pages and through SMS as well.
Similar complaints were made from across the country during the Junior School Certificate and Primary Terminal examinations last year.
The education ministry had then formed a probe committee, which found proofs of question paper leak of English and Bangla subjects in four districts. That's all the government did. It did not even cancel the examinations, let alone tracking and punishing the perpetrators.
It is the same situation in the government recruitment tests.
The Daily Star has learnt that question papers of at least 25 tests for recruiting teachers, health officials and bankers in government institutions were leaked in the last five years.
However, no visible action was taken to bring to book those responsible or to prevent such incidents from happening.
In fact, the government in almost all the cases have dismissed the allegations, terming them "rumours".
According to the Public Examinations (Offences) Act- 1980 and the Public Examinations (Offences) (Amendment) Act- 1992, disclosing, publishing or distributing questions, by any means whatsoever, before any public examination is a punishable offence. And the offenders may face jail terms between three and 10 years, including fines.
The acts stipulate the same punishment for anyone disclosing or distributing fake questions of such examinations or intending to that, which means that the government can easily try those who are spreading the "rumours".
At a sit-in programme yesterday to protest the alleged leak of HSC question papers, noted author and educationist Prof Muhammad Zafar Iqbal expressed his suspicion that the "higher authorities" may have been involved in the leaks.
"It is a matter of regret that neither the [education] ministry nor the [education] boards admitted that some of the HSC examinations had been held on leaked questions," he said.
Braving the surprise morning rain, eminent citizens, teachers, students and guardians joined the nearly four-hour-long programme at the Central Shaheed Minar.
Educationist Prof Yasmin Haque, cartoonist Ahsan Habib, writer and journalist Anisul Haq, Prof Md Kaykobad and Liberation War Museum trustee Ziauddin Tariq Ali spoke at the programme.
Terming the question paper leak the biggest disaster of the country, Zafar said the education ministry and board should admit the incidents and sit with them to outline measures to prevent these.
However, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid outright rejected Prof Zafar's remarks, saying there is no possibility of any official's involvement in leaking questions.
"He [Zafar] did not say it right. Once the questions are printed from the press, none has the chance to see them," he told The Daily Star last night.
The minister also differed with Zafar's comment that the ministry is not admitting the leaks.
"If we did not admit it, why would we form the probe committee?" he said.
He also asked Prof Zafar to come up with evidence to back his claim.
A committee, formed by the government to probe the leak of English Second Paper questions of the HSC exams, is likely to meet Zafar Iqbal today, said sources.
Meanwhile in Rajshahi, several examinees of the non-government teachers' registration examination held yesterday alleged that the question paper had been sold on Thursday night.
The questions were available at several photocopy stores and dormitories of different educational institutions in Rajshahi for Tk 10 to Tk 1,000, reports our Rajshahi correspondent.
When they showed our correspondent four sets of question papers bought from these sources, it was found that 98 questions of the 100 matched with the original question paper.
Contacted, Deputy Commissioner Mesbah Uddin Chowdhury of Rajshahi said they were looking into the allegation.
“We believe there is no chance of question papers leaking from Rajshahi because a foolproof security was maintained at the treasury [where the questions are kept] and while these were taken to the examination centres,” the DC told The Daily Star.