Testing times for the CBSE

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Testing times for the CBSE

There has been a rising chorus demanding the sacking of the CBSE chief. Yes, she must be sacked! For, she tried to sweep a system clean which has been nurturing mafias

Question paper leaks are not uncommon —  it happens almost every year in India and also abroad. However, the recent Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) paper leak scam has raised public, media and political concern than ever before. It’s a serious issue but the concerns raised have diverted public attention to a different level. This phenomenon needs an analysis and calls for a discussion about issues that have not yet been debated.

Any examination board is known for its reputation — for maintaining confidentiality and secrecy. So is the case with CBSE, which is the largest examining board in the world. No other board examines as many learners as the CBSE does — this not only for secondary and senior secondary exams but also for teacher eligibility tests, admissions to engineering and medical colleges, national eligibility for scholarship and appointments to colleges and universities, among others.

The CBSE has built this reputation over the decades, but not without leaks once in a while. Therefore, CBSE Chairman must definitely be proud to have got an opportunity to head this organisation; and as a corollary he must be the saddest person to be in a situation like this. By maligning the board and its reputation we are not helping the nation.

We must congratulate the chairperson for being prompt in taking action after the first message of leak of accountancy paper came to light. History is testimony that no other chairperson ever took such a quick action. She came up with a rebuttal, in a matter of minutes, that things were under control and the board had taken action.

Media was upset because she did not oblige them. They expected her to come up on camera and say that a few had been hanged, a few sent behind bars and a few were under investigation. Then, they would have asked: How did you hang without investigation? The CBSE had to say, without losing time, that the leak is not true but still it would be investigated. And that is what the CBSE did to uphold the reputation of the board.

However, we need to understand why this time there is so much concern from corners unrelated to schooling. All political parties have shown concern they never expressed before. One political  party went to the extent of suggesting the parents to not to let their children appear for a re-examination. Who’s going to benefit from this? Children or the nation? Or, perhaps, the leader himself or his party One political party sought apologies from the Prime Minister. How hilarious!

There has, perhaps, been no Indian Prime Minister during whose tenure no question paper leak took place. Has any head of the state ever apologised for the leaks? No. But we are only a year away from the general elections so it is but natural — political parties would not like to let off any occasion to create chaos. All parties alike are trying to fish in troubled waters, without considering national interest.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the students appearing for the board exams this year scared many. No Prime Minister in the recent past has addressed the students. In fact, we need to be reminded that we did away with board exams for the secondary class altogether because we were not able to manage the board. Instead of appreciating the Government and the CBSE, we are hounding. Let us think for once in the larger interest of the children and the nation.

To ask for the resignation or apologies from the Prime Minister, or the concerned Minister or the CBSE Chairman  smells of politics and ignorance.

It is important to mention that the chairperson does not even know who set the question paper or who moderated it or where was it printed. This is the prerogative of the Controller of Examination. So, in all fairness, the CBSE Chairman  should have been asked: What action have you taken against the Controller of Examination?

People must be held responsible but not without investigation. However, it is expected that a time-bound promise must be made to nab the culprit and proper action must be taken as well. The Secretary of School Education himself met the Press and answered their questions. Has any previous Secretary ever done this? No, not to our memory. What else could the Government do? He was straight-forward and honest. We should let organisations work and keep track of events but not hound to create news.

The education mafia business is larger than the national education budget. In fact, the people who head this mafia, command more money power than the education Minister of the country. Their turn-over is larger than the national education Budget. The cleaning that the new CBSE Chairman took up has scared the racked which has the most powerful and the rich. Amongst all the media reports, one is surprised how come no male has been identified for her success. It’s the easiest. How do we elbow out successful women? Easy. Character assassination of a woman of substance is a time-tested weapon.

However, Anita Karwal, CBSE Chairman must be sacked. She must be sacked because she has dared a man’s world. She must realise she is a woman and this is a male bastion. She must be sacked because she tried to sweep a system clean which has been nurturing mafias for decades. She has entered a chakravyuh without knowing the way out. She must be sacked because she has failed to learn her lesson that India is no more a country for Durgas anymore.

(The writer is Professor of Education at the Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi. Views expressed are personal)

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