UNDER FIRE from students, parents and the Opposition over the leak of question papers that led to the Central Board of Secondary Education announcing re-exams for Mathematics in Class X and Economics in Class XII, the government scrambled for cover Thursday with HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar assuring “reforms” and the CBSE claiming it had taken the decision “in utmost fairness”.
A day after the re-exams were announced, students and parents held a protest at Jantar Mantar to seek “justice” while Delhi Police said its crime branch has questioned 34 persons, including five coaching centre tutors and students, in connection with the alleged leak.
The main Opposition Congress, meanwhile, demanded the sacking of Javadekar, CBSE chairperson Anita Karwal and a probe into the leak by a high court judge.
Speaking to reporters, Javadekar said that the CBSE is likely to announce the re-test dates on Monday or Tuesday.
Responding to the outrage and the allegations, Javadekar said, “What can we do so that this thing does not get repeated, we are discussing and deliberating. To end the crime in the education system is a great challenge for us. I am having discussions with my counterparts abroad, and the US, and trying to find a system. We will punish the culprits and bring in necessary reforms within the system.”
Saying that he understood the pain, anguish and frustration of students and their parents, Javadekar said he hadn’t been able to sleep the entire night.
“CBSE has earned a good reputation of conducting fair examinations. This has been breached by the culprits. The Crime Branch of Delhi Police has formed teams and we are also doing an internal inquiry. Police are doing their job and we are sure the culprits will be nabbed,” he said.
Responding to allegations that the other question papers had also been leaked, he said they did not find enough proof.
Meanwhile, students from different schools in the Capital took part in the protest at Jantar Mantar, carrying posters with messages such as, “It is not students who need a re-test, it is the system”, “CBSE needs to be held accountable, CBSE fail, no-retest”.
“I did not leak the paper, why am I being held responsible for it?” said Adiba Kaleenir, 15, a Class X student of St Thomas School, who took part in the protest.
Many students also sent emails to the CBSE and the HRD Ministry, questioning the decision to conduct a re-test for just two exams. “Please re-conduct examination also for accountancy because 99.9% students want re-exam… Please consider our problem and take it with your department,” Anubhav Agarwal, a Class XII student of SJS Public School, Kasganj, UP, wrote in an email to CBSE.
However, CBSE chairperson Karwal said the decision to hold re-exams in two subjects was taken in “favour of the students”.
“We have taken the decision in favour of the students and in utmost fairness. Very soon, we will announce the dates (for re-test). Any further decision would also be taken in favour of the students… Students don’t have to worry about anything. We are with them,” she said.
Reacting to the leak, Congress president Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter, and targeted the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The exam leaks destroy the hopes and futures of millions of students. The Congress always protected our institutions. This is what happens when institutions are destroyed by the RSS/BJP… Believe me when I say, this is only the beginning,” he tweeted.
He had earlier tweeted in Hindi, “How many leaks? Data leak! Aadhar leak! SSC Exam leak! Election date leak! CBSE papers leak! There is a leak in everything, the ‘chowkidar’ is weak.” The reference was to Modi’s 2014 poll refrain that he would work as a “chowkidar (watchman)” for the people.
“Time to fix accountability and sack HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar and CBSE chairperson Anita Karwal,” Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala said.
Speaking to reporters, Delhi’s Special Commissioner of Police (Crime) R P Upadhyay said, “Currently, the investigation is based in Delhi. We have no information that this leakage is pan-India.”