Voices Thursday, March 31, 2016 - 13:12

The leaking of the chemistry PU question paper for the second time shows up the Karnataka government and the bureaucracy for being inefficient and callous in the way it has handled the whole episode, and requires an overhaul of the system to ensure that it does not recur.

Over 1.74 lakh students and their parents are going through unnecessary pressure, on account of the leaking of the II PU chemistry paper for the second time.

On March 21, the chemistry exam was cancelled after the students wrote the exam as the PU department discovered that the question paper had been leaked. The re-exam was then scheduled for March 30. However, on the day of the re-exam, the exam was called off in the early hours, as the question paper had been leaked again. Such a development may be unprecedented in the history of the PU board.

The students’ anger has grown, given that this is the second consecutive year that papers have been leaked. In their own ways, both 2015 and 2016 saw their own records. In 2015, papers of all four science subjects were leaked and grace marks had to be given. In 2016, the question paper for the re-exam too had been leaked.

Given all these developments, the students are angry. As in the past, there are protests. The PU Board’s office in the Malleswaram area of Bengaluru was pelted with stones and a few hundred people – including both parents and students – staged a protest on Thursday morning.

Students have been saying that they will not prepare for the exam a third time – on March 21, they wrote the exam only for it to be cancelled and this time, it was called off. Their stance is justified, not just because they have a lot to study, or numerous competitive exams to write, but because the government miserably failed in its duty to conduct the exams smoothly. Moreover, it compounded the problem by not responding to the problems of the students in a sensitive manner.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah spoke gruffly to reporters, only saying that the CID, which was investigating the first leak, would also do the same for the second one.

This is a poor response to a problem that recurs every other year and one that the government cannot put an end to.

On Thursday, a parent attempted to jump off the terrace of the PU Board building. The question of whether it was a gimmick designed to draw the attention of the government or whether the man was distraught enough to consider such a step, is immaterial. This situation has gone on long enough, because of the greed and vested interests of unknown persons. It needs to end. The government really needs to study the existing system seriously and either plug the loopholes or design a foolproof system to ensure that there is no room for manipulation.

In a world where young people are growing up too fast, and when they are increasingly under pressure to become part of the economy, the time they spend studying or education-related activity is simply increasing. Let’s not add more to it and try to give them as much support as possible without adding to their worries.

Even now, news is trickling in that a re-exam has been scheduled for April 12. 

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