THE CENTRAL Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) will conduct the re-examination of the Class XII Economics paper on April 25 and of Class X Mathematics, if needed, in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) and Haryana in July, the government said Friday.
The Economics re-test, which is only meant for students in India and not those studying in CBSE-affiliated schools abroad, will not delay the announcement of Board results, the HRD Ministry said. Students abroad, it was clarified, were unaffected by the paper leak.
Addressing a press conference amid protests by students, school education secretary Anil Swarup said that the HRD Ministry has “substantial information” to believe that the Class X Mathematics paper was leaked only in Delhi NCR and Haryana, which is why the CBSE, if needed, will not have all 16 lakh students reappear for the paper. The final decision will be announced in two weeks, after a detailed inquiry.
Asked how a question paper leaked on WhatsApp could have only been seen by students of two states, Swarup said, “There are no perfect answers or perfect solutions to the problem that we have. We have been reliably told that the leak was restricted to the Delhi and Haryana region… We have to take the best possible decision based on the information that has been given to us.”
Justifying the difference in the ministry’s approach to the two leaks, Swarup said the decision to test all Class XII students on Economics again was taken to ensure they don’t face trouble in securing admission to colleges and universities. While the government can wait for police to wrap up its investigation for the Class X leak, it cannot afford any delay in case of Class XII students, he said.
Denying all allegations of examinations being compromised for other subjects, particularly Class XII Accountancy, the ministry assured that the CBSE has verified all complaints and found them to be false. Swarup said the government is open to verifying any fresh complaints or evidence.
This week, in a move that stunned several thousands of students and parents, the CBSE announced that it will conduct the Class 10 Mathematics and Class 12 Economics exams again. The re-test, CBSE said, was being done to “uphold the sanctity of the board examination and in the interest of fairness to students”, and “taking cognizance of certain happenings in the conduct of examinations”.
Outlining the timeline of how the Board first discovered that the Class X Mathematics paper was leaked, Swarup said CBSE chairperson Anita Karwal received an email purportedly carrying contents of the question paper at 1.29 am on March 28.
Karwal saw the email at 8.55 am after she reached office and immediately shared it with the controller of examination, who confirmed that a “substantial number” of questions in the email were similar to the Board’s question paper.
The confirmation, however, only came after the students had started writing the paper. “Is it possible that when an examination is going on, you suddenly ask everyone to stop the examination? Hence, the examination could not have been practically stopped at that point in time,” said Swarup.
Asked why the Board first denied allegations of leak for the Economics paper and announced a re-test later, Karwal said, “On the day of the (Economics) examination, whatever information we got, we verified (it) and found that it was incorrect. But, subsequently, we started getting a lot of emails from children telling us and showing us the paper they had received before the exam. So, we got it examined and the police were of the reasonable suspicion that the paper might have been leaked a day before the (Economics) exam.”
The school education secretary assured that fool-proof steps will be taken next year to avoid similar mishaps, but did not reveal details of the immediate measures adopted by CBSE to prevent paper leaks for the remaining examinations. The Class 10 and 12 exams end on April 13.
Asked if the government can guarantee that leaks would not happen in future, he said, “No one can guarantee that nothing will go wrong. It will be our best endeavour to ensure it will not happen in future.”
Swarup did not specify what may have led to the paper leak. “We will be able to give the prescription once we have a diagnosis, and the police are doing that. A criminal inquiry is underway. At the department level, we are trying to understand how a process that was doing well for years went wrong this time,” he said, adding that no responsibility for the leak can be fixed until the police probe and CBSE’s internal inquiry is over.
HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, meanwhile, asked engineering students participating in a three-day hackathon to conceive a distribution system that can prevent question paper leaks.