Teachers as Policemen and Students as Thieves

Government Educational Board Examinations have always been basically a test of memory. Every year in February- March, one can see news paper and TV channels showing ‘expert teachers’ giving tips on how to score high in these examinations.  With a lot of people wanting just passing and scoring and getting that certificate as the “be all and end all” of education,  the scenario is becoming like a police-thief affair with certificates treated like trophies and students considered as burglars. Here teachers turn into policemen watching out for any irregulariiy or offence from students during examination , and devise secretive systems for questions paper making, distribution and answer sheet correction.

Examinations are taken by some – understandably- as life and death struggle. It was often heard that some students block and intimidate the teachers arriving at the examination venue for invigilation. Someone told me that in Bihar and U.P states of  India some students bring a pistol or knife and lay it on the table as a warning to invigilators and then go about their business of copying answers from text books or scrap papers.  There were reports of  students indulging in ‘mass copying’ and forming of ‘flying squads ‘of teachers by universities to prevent such occurrences.

There are other ways to get that ‘certificate’. Impersonation at the examination hall is one and another is to bribe the teachers who correct the answer papers. The teachers can ensure good marks by doing the answer writing by themselves or swap the papers of students.  When I was writing M.A Examination of Pondy University couple of years ago, (on why I did that, I will write later) I found a gentleman student next to me not writing a single sentence but stay quiet all through. When the time was up for submitting answer sheets he gave his blank paper with just his registration details and his paper was duly stacked with other filled answer sheets without questions. For me the reason was not hard to guess.

There is yet another way: bribe the computer operator of the educational department/university who finally compiles the marks. Recently a scandal broke out in Pondy University when a computer operator complained about tampering of mark sheets in the university’s computer department. A high central govt. minister’s name was mentioned in the newspapers in what came to be known as ‘Pondy university mark sheet scandal’. That soon after the operator was killed by unknown assailants when the enquiry was still going on shows high stakes were involved.

What made me write all this was today’s news about a Tamil Nadu Govt. Educational Board disallowing, students from wearing shoes, socks and belts while writing exam. Do we need any more sign that the conventional education has little to do with true education? The report is reproduced below.


No frills? TN bans shoes, belts, socks in exam hall

CHENNAI: Students appearing for the Tamil Nadu state board examinations in March will not be permitted to wear shoes, socks and even belts inside the examination hall! The Directorate of Government Examinations has come up with this curious restriction, apparently to curb malpractices.

In a handbook on March 2010 higher secondary examination duties, the directorate has given an advisory for examination hall superintendents. The advisory mandates hall superintendents to instruct students to ‘‘keep shoes, socks and belts outside the hall.’’ Besides, students cannot wear ‘‘modern wristwatches’’ or carry mobile phones, calculators and scraps of paper inside the hall.

‘‘It is common for students to hide scraps of paper containing answers inside their shoes or socks. Some of them even insert it in their belts, which is difficult to spot. Instead of conducting random checks, it would be more effective if shoes and socks are left outside the examination hall as a foolproof measure,’’ an official of Directorate of Government Examinations contended. What if students smuggle in papers or text materials inside their clothes? ‘‘That can easily be detected because they have to struggle to take the papers out without inviting the attention of the examiner,’’ he said.


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