Many academicians favour an “open book system” to cure the malaise

Even after the Bihar Chief Minister and Patna High Court took strong exception to mass copying in the Bihar Board school examination, reports and visuals of family and friends passing on answer sheets to their wards came on Saturday from different parts of the State. At some places police used force to chase them away, while at other centres the malpractices took place quietly with the connivance of authorities and teachers.

The shocking picture of parents and relatives scaling walls of a high rise examination centre in Mahnar of Vaishali district recently might have invited attention across the country and ridicule for the State’s education system. However, the fact of the matter is that cheating has been a regular annual feature.

Every year pictures and reports of mass copying or relatives hurling stones at policemen stopping them from providing cheat sheets to their wards have been hitting local media headlines without any public outrage.

Social observers and teachers in the State believe that it’s not only difficult but as the State Education Minister recently said, an “impossible task” for authorities to stop it. “It is no longer a law and order problem but a social issue which needs to be addressed socially”, Ramadhin Sharma, a retired teacher told The Hindu.

He said that every year a large number of girl students too appear in the Matriculation examination and for their families a pass is a must for their marriage.

“They go to any extent to help the girl students pass the examination for their marriage purpose,” he said. “For this noble cause” even villagers from the place where the examination centre is located gather together and chase away the authorities.

“Not only this, even teachers, officials and members of invigilation squads either sympathised with the cause or are prevailed upon by the relatives of the girl students,” said sexagenarian Shaym Kishore Singh, another former teacher.

They also recall how in 1996 when the Patna High Court, like this year, had cracked down on the rampant mass copying in the State, only 12 per cent students had passed the Board exam. “In 1993 the pass percentage was 73.5 % while in 2010 it was 70.90 per cent. But when authorities acted tough the pass percentage in 1996 fell sharply,” said Mr. Sharma. Out of the 14, 26,000 examinees this year 6, 59,000 are girl students.

“In a State like Bihar where the literacy rate is still the lowest in the country and over 80 per cent people live in villages the marriage of a girl is a strong social issue and matriculation is the basic educational standard for her marriage,” Dilkeshwar Sahay, a social activist told The Hindu.

To cure the malaise, many of the school teachers and academicians, favoured an “open book system” for the examinees with “subjective and concept-based questions.” On Saturday, the former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi too advocated an “open book system” to stop mass copying.

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