After having achieved the distinction of becoming the crime capital of the country, the State of Assam seems to have moved from the realm of ordiry crimes like rape, murder, abduction, robbery, cheating and so on to crimes that are exclusive to the world of education. During the last few days, we have had leaks of question papers relating to the Higher Secondary examitions as well as the burning of 12,587 answer scripts of the Board of Secondary Education, Assam (SEBA) stored at Jorhat. About a week ago, there was the case of the Physics question paper of the Higher Secondary examition having been leaked well before the date of the Physics examition. Subsequent investigations have revealed that the examition superintendent’s concern for the performance of his son at the examition led to the leak of the question paper well before the Physics examition. In seeking to ensure better results for his son, he had no qualms at all about the outcome of his crimil action on the fate of thousands of other examition candidates. Here indeed is a case of a teacher sabotaging education for persol interests. On Monday, the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (AHSEC) was obliged to cancel its Class XII Biology examition the day before its scheduled date, after leaked copies of the question paper were found circulating in some parts of the State, just as it had to do in the case of the leaked Physics question paper.
Even more intriguing is the blaze that destroyed 12,587 answer scripts of the Board of Secondary Education, Assam stored at the Sankardev Semiry High School of Jorhat, the desigted evaluation centre of the SEBA. Ramesh Chand Jain, Secretary, Secondary Education, has said that in view of the unfortute incident, the government of Assam has directed the SEBA to shift the evaluation centre elsewhere. After all, the incident has taken away the secrecy of the location of the evaluation centre. Considering that the answer scripts were not made of highly combustible paper, they could not have caught fire on their own. A major crime has been committed against the student community of the State. People connected with the evaluation centre and its magement like the headmistress of the Sankardev Semiry and the Inspector of Schools, Jorhat have been suspended pending departmental proceedings against them and a show-cause notice is in the process of being issued to SEBA Secretary Kamal Jyoti Gogoi asking why discipliry action should not be taken against him. Unfortutely, the people being punished are as much the victims of the crime as are the examition candidates whose answer scripts were burnt. Instead of being able to secure their help, the government has turned them into adversaries, while the real perpetrators of the crime have maged to escape. The need of the hour was to apprehend the culprits, secure their speedy punishment even in the land of lahe-lahe and to send out the message as to what happens to such crimils far and wide. Since this has not happened, the SEBA has been obliged to make an irratiol offer to all candidates whose answer scripts were destroyed in the fire. They can either appear for the examition again, or take a grading equal to their best score in other subjects without appearing for the examition relating to the burnt answer scripts. This may be a humane option, but is not necessarily a ratiol one.
The Chief Minister of Assam has raised the facetious question as to whether the Education Minister will have to resign every time answer scripts get burnt. The more relevant question is: With his vast experience in administration, will the Chief Minister of Assam tell us how many other cases of examition answer scripts getting burnt he is aware of anywhere else in the world? After all, the buck has to stop somewhere. Someone has to be accountable for such things. As head of government, he has to decide where he wants the buck to stop. But having turned his trusted lieutents into adversaries, he is unlikely to find too many people who are willing to be accountable for what they are supposed to be responsible for.