The Yogi Adityanath government’s crackdown on the use of unfair means in the wake of reports of rampant cheating that gripped Uttar Pradesh state board exams in 2017 appears to have had the desired impact this time around. With strict vigilance in the examination centres, they have been completely “sanitized” across districts, CCTV cameras are installed across exam halls and newspapers are flush with reports about how the test centres are free from scalpers and the business of the so-called ‘education mafia’ is suffering. The centres are sans loudspeakers that dictated answers to students and invigilators are no more turning a blind eye to what examinees were doing in classrooms.
The crackdown on touts and their agents who wrote papers for students in exchange for money are nowhere to be seen, Times of India reported. With every movement constantly being monitored and exams were held in silence, the ‘cheating mafia’ that caused all hullabaloo exactly a year back has been tamed. This year, a total of 66,37,018 students were registered to appear in this year’s UP board exams. This number includes 36,55,691 students who were to appear for the class 10th examinations, while 29,81,327 students were to appear for the class 12th board examination.
• The state government took strict measures to keep a check on cheating in the board examinations. A number of CCTV cameras have been installed in exam halls in addition to the use of STF and local intelligence to check activities of education mafia.
• Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma while speaking about the crackdown against the use of unfair means said that the objective was to provide copying free examinations and prevent the education mafia from doing mischief.
• This year the number of exam centres in the state have come down from 12000 to 8500, several have been blacklisted.
• Sharma also stated that no unfair means would be tolerated and anyone found copying or promoting it would be dealt with strictly.
• Elaborative arrangements were made to prevent cheating and maintain transparency in the ensuing Uttar Pradesh board examinations. District Magistrate Sarvagyab Ram Mishra had said, “Prohibitory orders under section 144 have been promulgated with ban on outsiders within a periphery of 200 metres, and the entire district has been divided into three super zones, 7 zones and 27 sectors.”
• This resulted in a mass dropout this year on the first day of board exams itself which started on February 6, 2018. Further, it accelerated to over 10 lakh students skipping the examination in just 4 days.
• More than 1.8 lakh students were absent on day one of the UP board examination 2018. Over 6 lakh students had skipped examinations within three days and now over 10 lakh students which are more than previous year number missed the exam over the last 4 days since the start of the exam, according to a report by TOI.
• In the year 2017, the total number of school dropout in the board examination was a total of 5.35 lakh students, but this year the numbers are off the chart and still increasing.
• The crackdown by Adityanath-led government recalls similar steps taken by another BJP Chief Minister 27 years ago, reported the Indian Express.
• In 1992, Kalyan Singh who is now the Governor of Rajasthan, had issued the so-called ‘Nakal Adhyadesh’, or anti-copying Ordinance, which made cheating a cognizable offence.
• During this period, hundreds of students were detained after they were caught cheating.
• The pass percentage that year crashed to 14.7% for Class 10 and 30.4% for Class 12, the lowest between 1991 and now.
• However, the governments that followed — led by Ram Prakash Gupta, Rajnath, Mulayam, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav — made no special effort to check the menace of cheating for fear of becoming unpopular, reported IE.
Poor education quality in the state
• As per the report by IE, the quality of teaching is poor in Uttar Pradesh. Unaided schools, in particular, randomly appoint unqualified teachers for monthly salaries as low as Rs 2,000-5,000.
• An entire ecosystem of corruption has been surrounded by cheating, and the posts of DIOS and Basic Shiksha Adhikaris (BSAs) are among the most lucrative in the districts.
• Senior officers mostly send their children to Lucknow or other major cities where schools are better.
Spoiled businesses of cheating mafias
• The harsh measures have irked the owners of some private institutes who used to make a fair amount of money by facilitating cheating.
• As per reports, the institutes have been cursing the press and the administration for blowing the issue of cheating out of proportion. They have also accused the media of being “biased”.
• The owner of such institutions used to make lakhs during the examination season. As per TOI the report, they have lost students who were promised pass percentages and been forced to pay back the money they had collected, causing huge damage to their business.