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HSLC fiasco again, two papers leaked

SEBA IN DENIAL MODE

BY OUR STAFF REPORTER

Guwahati, Feb 20: Uncertainty looms large over smooth conduct of the ongoing HSLC/AHM examitions with the Board of Secondary Education, Assam on Monday deciding to reschedule the dates of Social Science and Assamese papers, following reports that question papers of both subjects were leaked in Hojai and Baksa districts.

The SEBA also decided to conduct a high-level probe to verify reports and allegations of question papers leakage even as the board was initially on denial mode over the today’s development. The probe order came following intense pressure from the public as well as from Dispur. Examitions for Social Science and Assamese papers were scheduled to be held on February 23 and March 7 respectively.

As per the revised schedule now, the Social Science test will be held on March 8 instead of February 23, while the date for Assamese test will remain unchanged. But the SEBA will print new set of question papers for both Assamese and Social Science.

Nearly 4 lakh students are sitting for the HSLC/AHM exams this year. Highly placed sources in SEBA told The Sentinel that considering the reports and allegations of question paper leak in two districts, the board has resolved not to compromise with the sanctity of HSLC/AHM exams and will print another set of new question papers.

“It will take some time to print new sets of question papers. Under such circumstances, holding the tests for Social Science and Assamese will not be possible as per the origil schedule of dates. The SEBA will soon announce new dates for the same,” the source revealed.

The incident of question papers leakage came to light when examinees at Morajhar Higher Secondary School in Hojai district and Bahimah Higher Secondary School in Baksa district had to wait nearly one-and-half hour this morning to write the General Mathematics paper. They claimed they were nonplussed when Social Science and Assamese question papers were handed out instead of General Mathematics paper. A hue and cry ensued in both exam centers and examinees had to wait till 10.30 am to get the General Mathematics paper to write. The exam was scheduled to start at 9 am.

SEBA secretary Kamal Jyoti Gogoi told The Sentinel on Monday evening that the authorities in charge of examitions centers in Hojai and Baksa districts brought wrong sets of question papers (Social Science and Assamese papers instead of General Mathematics) from their nearest police stations. He said the authorities realized their fault only when they opened the question paper sets at the examition centers. He, however, denied reports that question papers were leaked, claiming that these were not distributed at all among the examinees.

The incidents in Baksa and Hojai districts triggered widespread anger and protests among students, parents and various organizations. While the All Assam Students Union and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad demanded that SEBA immediately bring the culprits to book and ensure smooth conduct of the rest of HSLC/AHM exams, the opposition Congress accused Education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma of making tall claims to bring about quality changes in the education sector without ensuring basic things like smooth conduct of HSLC exams.

Sarma, however, told reporters that his department has sought detailed reports on the alleged question paper leakage from the DCs of Baksa and Hojai district. He said the SEBA will conduct and complete an inquiry within the next 10 days to punish the culprits.

AASU chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharjya questioned as to how long the SEBA will continue to play ducks and drakes with the careers of students in the State. He said both SEBA and Education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma should take moral responsibility and apologize to examinees for such untoward incidents which have created an atmosphere of uncertainty. “Mental and psychological preparations of all examinees for important exams like HSLC have received a major setback following today’s incident,” Bhattacharjya said.

There were reports that examinees had to light candles in some of the examition centers in Bongaigaon, Dibrugarh, Barpeta and Silchar districts on Monday morning to sit for the General Mathematics paper due to non-availability of electricity.

The SEBA has been facing public ire in recent years for its ibility to conduct HSLC/AHM examition in a smooth manner. Thousands of answer-scripts were charred to ashes when fire engulfed an evaluation centre in Jorhat district last year. Even though the Education minister recently announced a grand plan to conduct this year’s HSLC/AHM exam in free, fair and smooth manner, Monday’s fiasco has raised serious doubts about his claims.