We are disappointed by the mishap that has occurred during the ongoing Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and equivalent exams, where wrong question papers were distributed among students in four centres in Barishal, Nilphamari, Jashore and Feni. According to media reports, 17 students received wrong sets of MCQ question papers based on the old syllabus in Barishal’s Halima Khatun Girl’s High School Centre. The issue had been communicated to the education board authorities, following which the board chairman assured that the examinees wouldn’t be affected by this and formed a three-member committee to probe the incident.
While we hope that those responsible for distributing wrong test papers would be held accountable, the incident has raised the question whether the authorities are adequately checking if all the board prerequisites for exams are being fulfilled before the students step into the exam hall. Students appearing in public exams in Bangladesh are no strangers to the sudden inconveniences that happen before or during exams. In 2018, Nilphamari’s Rabeya Balika Bidyaniketan centre saw a similar situation where question papers based on an old syllabus were provided to 98 candidates. The invigilators came to learn about the mistake after about an hour into the exam.
With a large number of students (20,47,779) taking part in the SSC and equivalent examinations under 10 boards this year, one would expect that the officials and educators would take every precaution to ensure that past mistakes are not repeated. Students studying rigorously based on a new syllabus only to come across questions based on the previous one is unfair to them, to say the least. There is then the additional worry about the leaking of questions which has scarred our education landscape for so long. Given what is at risk here, merely sacking officials will not suffice.
We request the Ministry of Education to find out why these incidents took place and to make sure they are not repeated in any of the upcoming exams. Those in charge of distributing test papers must be more diligent about such anomalies so that they do not crop up during the exams and cause unnecessary confusion and anxiety among the students. Those examinees who had to go through this experience should be given a chance to take these exams again, with the correct exam papers.