Whenever news breaks out on leakage of question papers, erroneous question papers, copying in examination, withholding of results or uncertainty in examination schedule, it dampens the spirit of the examinees. Irrespective of the nature and purpose of the examination, the cancellation of any examination followed by its conduction in the future is disheartening and annihilates the reputation of the concerned institution and examination both. The re-conduction of any examination on account of mishap may be quite normal for the organisers. However, it completely shatters the minds and schedule of activities of respective candidates.
Many times, the examination conduction bodies set up enquiry committees for reasoning out ill-fated occurrences and after every incident, certain corrections are made to ensure proper conduct of examinations. But, the sporadic recurrence of breach of the integrity of examinations goes on incessantly following different modalities.
Time Scheduling of programmes
Apart from the unsuccessful conduct of examinations, the uncertainties prevailing in the scheduling of examinations leading to prolonging of degree or diploma programmes are equally worrisome. There are a few universities in India where three-year UG degree programmes get stretched up to five years for no fault of the students.
The students pursuing such prolonged programmes are utterly frustrated and helpless for lagging in respect to their counterparts in other parts of the country. Unprecedented delays in holding regular examinations in formal education programmes due to the indolence of higher education institutions (HEIs) are very alarming.
Simultaneously, the rampant use of unfair practices in regular University / Board examinations exasperates the meritorious students enrolled in them and seeds a general tendency to migrate out from the respective HEIs to the HEIs running programmes as per schedule.
The delays in evaluation and result preparation along with the trustworthiness of results worsen the situation.
The craze among students for studying in certain acclaimed HEIs / colleges/schools culminates in unmanageable crowding, unequal distribution of competencies across the country, and draining of financial resources from a particular state(s). Despite having a common regulatory framework for education across the country with slight variations from state-to-state, the outflow of students from one state to another on account of the unavailability of good quality education in their close vicinity calls for necessary corrections at the earliest.
There is a need to fix the responsibility of the institutions /boards / universities for proper conduction of teaching-learning-examination-evaluation programmes in them to minimise the student migration from one location to another. The value of time of everyone must be respected else students will continue flying off in pursuit of better educational opportunities.
Preventing leakage of Question papers
For quite some time, the issue of question paper leakage has emerged as a big menace. Unfortunately, a large number of examinations have succumbed to question paper leakage, including the regular examinations of board or university which is discomforting. It points to lagging teaching-learning activities in formal education. The leakages of examination papers leading to admissions in higher classes, or for employment have high stakes and involve financial transactions.
The inability to completely curb nefarious designs for question paper leakages is the culmination of the lackadaisical approach of the organizing team and infiltration of people with dubious integrity at some stages starting from the setting of paper, moderation, printing, storage, distributing, and conduction of examination.
Undoubtedly, the deterioration in the standard of education is also tempting the examinees to resort to unethical practices of sneaking into the sacrosanct examination processes. It results in acute disappointment of the meritorious students desirous of results based on their capabilities. It severely impacts the reputation of a particular examination(s) adversely. Gradually, such occurrences result in negative perception and the credentials of the students undertaking these examination(s) come under the scanner automatically.
The abominable acts of question paper leakages kill the competitive spirit of the innocent minds and the public trust in the credibility of the affected examinations. This irreparable damage cannot be healed because of the irreversibility of the time clock. Therefore, all efforts are required to make it one of the most heinous crimes with stern punishments as it slays the enthusiasm of the potential human resource and bereft the society of their competencies at an appropriate time.
Preventing the use of Unfair Practices
The use of unfair practices is also one of the predominant malpractices in examination processes. There are ample regulations for nabbing the culprits i.e. those using unfair practices but little is attempted to avoid the germination of copying tendencies. Protecting the examination conduction from copying is being successfully practiced in a series of examinations by adhering to stringent regulations religiously.
The physical barrier to the access of unlawful material on examination premises holds the key to eliminating copying in examination to a large extent. Nonetheless, it warrants committed and honest human resource that executes the standard operating procedures for flawless conduction of examinations.
Further, it is also important to examine the factors that nurture copying tendencies. Is it not the weakening of learning attainments in classrooms that prompts the students to make up their performance gaps in examinations through unfair means? Perhaps, the proper classroom engagement and enhanced learning from classroom interactions will keep examinees at bay from these unlawful activities.
Need to minimise examinations
Looking into the very purpose of examinations it is obvious that these are held either for evaluation of learning levels in formal education, for granting admission to certain courses, or for employment. The abundance of examinations have accustomed Indian students and trained their minds to face examinations not only for education purposes but also for securing jobs.
The moot point is why are the examinations conducted again for preparing a merit list of candidates with certain eligibility requirements that are based on the passing of certain examinations conducted by some Board or University which has statutory empowerment to certify the student performance based on the examination conducted by them.
Several examinations may be mind-boggling but felt necessary over a while due to the weak credibility of examination outcomes in formal education imparted by the schools, colleges or universities. This loss of worthiness of the formal end of programme examination - evaluation processes necessitates amelioration of the state of affairs at every level in the education system.
The regulators and academic community must collectively develop a strategy for making the examination-evaluation system unassailable and, before that, enrich the learning level attainments to minimise the probability of examination mismanagement.
Improving the credibility of the examination-evaluation system will eventually end up in the elimination of numerous examinations meant solely for preparing inter-se merit of candidates based on qualifying board or university examinations.
Qualitative improvement in formal education programmes will relieve the candidates and their families from the distressing cost of the examination, additional efforts, and unwanted expenditure on coaching.
The poor socio-economic conditions in Indian society are often depriving many worthy youths as they cannot afford specialized training for cracking certain examinations. Due considerations must also be given to the penury as a good number of examination aspirants often find it an uphill task to arrange for examination fees, traveling and other related expenditures. Any lapse in examinations generates undue distress among examinees. It must be shunned.
One of the education rankings by countries based on three equally-weighted attributes namely “a well-developed public education system, would consider attending university there and provides top-quality education” has placed India at rank 32n. For some, the ranking may not have much relevance but it gives a cue to strengthen the education system holistically.
The examination-evaluation process being an integral component of the education system must be prudently handled for making it fair, transparent, time-bound, and flawless. Concerted efforts are required by all stakeholders to manage the examination-evaluation processes incorruptibly, failing which the disheartened youth would be unable to contribute their full potential for the good of society.