Students in Bihar are literally passing sleepless nights these days. With the ruling Nitish Kumar government looking firm on curbing use of unfair means in the upcoming intermediate and matriculation examinations, the lone point of discussion among the students is what will be their fate without cheats? The intermediate examinations start from February 24 while the matriculation examinations are scheduled to begin from March 11 this year.
Authorities at the Bihar Intermediate Council which conducts the intermediate examinations in the state were at their wit’s end when a control room set up by them to assist the students and guardians alike was flooded with bizarre questions, such as if the cheating will really be banned and can they be allowed to use unfair means in the exams.
Media reports said of around 600 calls coming to the control room in the past four days, some 400 were related to cheating and their fate without cheats. Instead of asking queries about syllabus, how to solve questions, which are the areas they should focus and how to make time management, the callers were rather interested to know if the authorities really would ban cheating this time given the stories regularly appearing in the local newspapers.
The government has taken it a challenge to conduct fair examinations this time, and keeping this in view has announced to initiate severe punitive actions against the students caught cheating in the examination. The culprits could face punishments like expulsion from examinations, getting banned from appearing at two successive examinations and not getting allowed to even sit in the compartmental tests. In addition to them, the authorities are also installing CCTC cameras at vulnerable exam centres and making heavy deployment of police force at each exam centre to stop continuing practice of cheating.
The government was virtually compelled to initiate such harsh measures this time after the visuals of mass copying in the last year’s matriculation showing parents and relatives alike clambering up the walls of the multi-storyed school buildings in Bihar and openly smuggling chits to the students went viral in the social media, brining much embarrassment to the Nitish Kumar government. Although such scenes were visible at only few places, yet they earned widespread outrage, shame and ridicule for the ruling regime.
Some may be tempted to instantly link it to the growing ‘indiscipline’ in the new generation of students and their bad conduct but the image also abundantly exposes the rot in the system of present-day governance where power seems to the ultimate goal of leaders. As such, no government in the state has looked sincere to enforce discipline on the campus and improve the education system; instead they worked with the prime motive to create various vote-banks to serve their own ends. The result was that shocking visual.
The general masses expected a lot when NDA government headed by Kumar came to power in 2005, ending 15 years of RJD’s rule. True to their expectations, Kumar formed a commission headed by former foreign secretary Muchkund Dubey on the Common School System with the objective to provide the right to equal education. Later, Dubey submitted his recommendations to the government but it was dumped for the reason best known to the government.
Likewise, the state government initiated steps to improve enrollments in government schools. This saw the cops picking up poor children aimlessly walking on the streets, washing utensils on roadside hotels or doing other such works, and getting them admitted to schools. However, in the absence of any alternative employment arrangements to their parents, the recued children were back to work at previous places.
The flaws in recruitment of teachers resulting in appointment of incompetent teachers have further destroyed the education system. As of now, students normally bunk classes after eating free meals since most of the around 400,000 teachers appointed by the Nitish Kumar government on contractual basis are not fit for teaching, say the academic experts. The seriousness of the overall situation is underlined from the fact that quite 25 percent of the contractual teachers appointed by the Nitish Kumar government later failed the competency test conducted by the state government to test their teaching ability following large-scale complain about their poor teaching standard.
The previous regime too did no good to the education system. In 1970’s, former chief minister Karpoori Thakur had done away with the compulsory learning of English as a subject from matriculation examination while his
disciple Lalu Prasad opened “charwaha vidyalayas” (schools for cattle grazers) after he became the chief minister in 1990. The idea was to provide the learning opportunity to the cowboys who didn’t get the opportunity to attend schools because of family compulsions but it eventually flopped.