In a tough and unprecedented measure, the Maharashtra government has decided to cancel the recognition of any school from which examination paper leakages come to light, School Education Minister Prof. Varsha Gaikwad said on Wednesday.
After the SSC Marathi exam paper allegedly leaked earlier this week, the state government clamped down and derecognised the Laxmibai Secondary and Higher Secondary School, Nilajgaon, where there were allegations of mass-copying.
Announcing the strong decisions in the Maharashtra Legislature, Prof. Gaikwad said that henceforth, all students must reach their examination venues at least one hour before the scheduled paper.
The candidate must compulsorily be seated inside the exam hall 10 minutes before the start of any exams – at 10.20 a.m. for the 10.30 a.m. paper, and at 2.50 p.m. for the 3 p.m. paper.
“Under no circumstances shall any candidate be permitted to enter the exam halls after the examinations begin at 10.30 a.m. or 3 p.m. All parents and students must take note of this and cooperate with the authorities,” she said.
However, those entering the exam hall after 10.20 a.m. or 2.50 p.m. – owing to circumstances beyond their control – would undergo a complete check before they are permitted to write the exams to ensure their future is not affected, the Minister assured.
Simultaneously, all schools have been ordered to ensure that students do not misuse their mobile phones, click pictures of the question paper distributed at 10.30 am and 2.50 p.m. (for reading) and strictly prohibit the use of phones in the exam halls.
Reacting to the government decision, Maharashtra English Schools Trustees Association (MESTA) Founder-President Sanjayrao T. Patil said that though welcome, the move appears to be misdirected.
“During the SSC/HSC exams, the schools are taken over by the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary & Higher Secondary Examination, with their own examiners, invigilators, vigilance, officers, etc., students are outsiders, and the schools merely act as facilitators to help them conduct the exams. So, in case of a paper leakage, how can the schools be held liable?” Patil said.
The MESTA founder-head urged that the government should keep a check on all the authorities engaged in conducting the exams to ensure the rules are stringently followed by all to prevent paper leakage or mass-copying instead of targeting the schools which are only ‘exam centres’ offering their premises for the conduct of exams.