Three years after the Gujarat Education department installed closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at government schools across the state to keep a check on exam centres and minimise copying cases, the effectiveness of the measure has come under scanner. This year, over 150 copying cases have been reported which were detected by examiners and squads during the board exams. After verifying the CCTV footage, this number is certain to shoot up. Fearing this, the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) has taken upon itself to nail the unfair means cases in state board examinations. Sources in the board revealed that based on the initial findings, the board authorities are suspecting mass copying cases this year too.
The CCTV cameras are installed and their recordings are verified by the District Education Officers (DEOs). However, the authorities suspect that they are subject to manipulations. So, this year, the GSHSEB is all set to verify 100 per cent CCTV footage running into nearly 3,200 compact discs (CDs) of the examination centres which have been identified as “sensitive” and “hyper sensitive”. This means that the education board will verify the CCTV footages of all subjects throughout the length of exams. Sources revealed that over 170 Class XII Science CDs and over 3,000 CDs of Class XII general stream exams have been collected from sensitive centres.
Mass copying cases are reported more in general streams than Science streams, sources said. Class XII exams are held in two three-hour shifts and are spread over 13 days. Once, the board has examined the CCTV of Class XII exams, it will also verify the Class X exams’ CCTV footage. The CCTV camera project, which was awarded the Skoch award under the smart governance category in 2015, was introduced after it was pilot tested for two years. However, authorities suspect a collusion of examination centre in-charge, district authorities and students which have led to mass copying cases at exam centres despite the installation of CCTVs. Last year, despite CCTV cameras as well as physical flying squads, mass cases from particular centres were unearthed by the GSHSEB wherein students scored zero in subjective questions and more than 90 per cent in objective-part questions.
“The GSHSEB has identified certain sensitive and hyper sensitive centres which have a notorious history or those from where not a single copying case has been detected. In the first phase, Class XII would be undertaken for cross verification of the footage at its length and breadth,” said GSHSEB chairman A J Shah.
The GSHSEB has tied up with Ahmedabad’s engineering colleges to rope in their students to view these 3,200 CDs. Already, the board has witnessed instances where corrupted CDs were submitted to the board. In other cases, electricity supply was intentionally disrupted to avoid CCTV recording of examinations. On enquiry from the board, this was blamed on the erratic electricity supply for non-compliance of submitting the CCTV recorded footage and submitting “edited” CDs with missing recordings.
After corrective measures were taken, these practices were checked. Yet, the malpractices are still reported from the examination centres. Apart from students using unfair means, the GSHSEB has also come across numerous instances of unfair means used by the examination centres, either by the school staff directly or examination supervisors and invigilators. In some cases, even the DEOs were questioned. As the onus of viewing CDs collected from each examination centre under respective districts is with the DEOs, the cases of intentional and unintentional errors were also reported on their behalf.
In 2016, over 2,500 copying cases were detected from CCTV footage. In 2015 examinations, when the CCTV camera scheme was introduced, the total number of unfair means cases detected by the CCTV cameras from Class X and XII state board examinations was 7,448. At 4,173, Anand district reported the largest number of copying cases.
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