10L students skip UP exams due to strict anti-cheating measures
Over 10L students, or 15% of the registered candidates, have skipped the UP school board exams in the first four days. This is a first in over nine decades of the board's history, officials said, attributing it to stricter anti-cheating measures. Though such steps might help deter students from copying, the high absentee rate is also likely to dent the state's pass percentage.
UP education board hit by mass cheating allegations
Last year, the education board was hounded by mass cheating complaints. Students were caught on camera openly consulting books during exams and exchanging notes. The copying mafia entered exam halls forcibly to hand over chits to students. Often, invigilators were missing. People were seen ripping pages from textbooks and pushing them inside through walls. Such allegations have been reported since a few years.
Strict anti-copying measures employed this time, officials claim
Deputy CM Dinesh Sharma, secondary education minister, said the administration has now "studied all possible ways and means of (cheating)." CCTV cameras have been mandated at exam centers, which have come down from over 12,000 to 8,500. Other measures include frisking students, appointing administrative officers as sector magistrates, and issuing prohibitory orders near centers. Even STF and local intelligence have been roped in.
Resultantly, candidates' presence rate drops to a historic low
Over 66.37L students are registered for the UP board exams this year, scheduled during February 6-March 12. Till the fourth day, 6.24L High School and 4.2L Intermediate students had skipped the papers, a total of 10.44L. In 2016, 6.45L students had remained absent overall.
Strict measures bound to affect presence, pass percentage: Official
Pass percentages have also fluctuated due to different government's will to check mass cheating, said Lal Mani Diwedi, general secretary of UP Madhyamik Shikshak Sangh. Under BJP and BSP governments, the figure stayed low, but went over 80% during SP's rule. The lowest high school pass percentage is 40.07% (2008), while the highest is 87.66% (2016). For intermediate, it's 65.05% (2008) and 92.68% (2013).
Five arrests till now for cheating
However, despite harsh measures, at least five people have been arrested for cheating this year, including a teacher in Naini who dictated answers to students, and a 'fake' invigilator in Chandauli. They have been booked under UP Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act.