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Shoes pile up outside Bihar exam centres, debate rages on board’s new no-shoes rule

Nearly 17.7 lakh students are writing their Class X BSEB examinations at 1,426 centres across Bihar. Under the new rule, students cannot enter examination centres wearing shoes and socks; they can wear slippers.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna |
Updated: February 22, 2018 5:59:52 am
Students being checked outside a Class X examination centre in Patna on Wednesday. (Source: PTI)

As shoes piled up outside examination centres on the first day of Class X Bihar Board examinations following the no-shoes rules introduced this year to check cheating, so did views on the rules among students, parents, guardians and others who had accompanied examinees to different centres on Wednesday. While the first impression varied from support for the move to calling it a farce — and everything in between — Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) officials, teachers and examiners at different centres called it a practical way to address the menace of copying given the huge number of examinees.

An examination centre superintendent at a school in Munger said CCTVs at centres, installed for the first time last year, may not be enough, as students can go to the washroom and “read from chits”. He said, “Shoes and socks are known to hide chits and papers, but frisking at such scale is not possible. This rule will at least minimise chances of carrying chits in person.” Urging students and guardians to cooperate, BSEB chairperson Anand Kishore said, “We have not taken any new measure. Several competitive examinations have the no-shoes rule. We ask”.

Nearly 17.7 lakh students are writing their Class X BSEB examinations at 1,426 centres across Bihar. Under the new rule, students cannot enter examination centres wearing shoes and socks; they can wear slippers. At Kamla Nehru Girls school in Gardanibagh, Patna, examinees wearing even half-shoes without socks were asked to remove them. As some of them tried to argue, a woman posted at the main entrance said she had no time to check shoes of each candidate. “Remove your shoes and collect it on return,” she said. Fifty-three students were expelled for cheating Wednesday.

Officials said the BSEB was under pressure to conduct fair examinations, as widespread cheating in Class X and XII Board examinations in the past had brought disrepute to the state government. The image of people scaling walls of a school in Vaishali district, to help pass on “chits” through windows had been widely circulated and reported, and the authorities had come under severe criticism.

Watching the proceedings from a distance, Buxar resident Rohit Kumar, whose sister Swati Kumari is taking the examination there, said he supports the move. “The BSEB had advertised it well in advance, and we cannot argue with them. I guess it is done to save time on physical frisking. There is nothing wrong with the step — at least, we will not have a supposed topper like Ruby Rai, who had forged her way to Class XII Boards two years ago,” he said.

Rohit, himself preparing for banking examinations, added that this move will offer a level playing field to “genuine students”. Just before rushing off to the centre to write her English papers, Swati nodded in agreement. Jitendra Prasad, an auto-rickshaw driver from Patna’s Buddha Colony who had come with his niece, Pinki, who is writing the papers, also backed the rule. “Bihar has had its share of notoriety. Let us now support any move that makes the examination process clean,” he said.

Calling it a farcical move, Ramjit Jha, who accompanied daughter Kiran to the centre, said, “Why have they installed CCTVs then? The BSEB wants to hog limelight and please their political bosses with such measures.” At Ram Lakhan Singh Yadav High School in Punaichak, Patna, Amarnath Choudhary, a Masaurhi resident, also criticised the order. “Tomorrow the government can get the Board to pass orders and ask students to come in shorts,” he said. Choudhary’s son is taking the examination.

Yashwant Sinha said, “I live at Bihta (on Patna’s outskirts), and I had to leave home with my son at 6 am to reach Patna. Although it’s not very cold, shoes are always more comfortable than slippers. And a chit can be hidden anywhere in the clothes, too. CCTVs were enough,” he said. A BSEB official said, “More than 3.5 lakh people are deployed to conduct the examination, but there are more than 8.5 lakh students in one sitting (examinations are being held in two shifts every day, given the number of examinees). If we conduct physical frisking for shoes, a lot of time will be wasted.”

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