Students of class X who failed to spell simple words like ‘friend’, ‘clever’, ‘fondly’, ‘tennis’ correctly, and shockingly, even their own names in English, excelled in the English paper of State Board exams this year using all the above words, and numerous other adjectives in the subjective part.
In another instance in Sanskrit paper, students made same mistakes while translating Sanskrit shlokas into Gujarati and in the Hindi paper, where they attempted the same questions on poetry and story writing, with similarities in their answers.
This came to light during a session conducted with over 200 class X students who were found cheating at various examination centres in Panchmahal district during the Board exam conducted by the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Examination Board (GSHSEB).
Out of the 230 cases of mass copying detected by the GSHSEB, 96 cases were caught and confirmed during class X English paper from one examination centre of Kavali in Shehara taluka of Panchmahal district.
The hearing of over 130 remaining cases who have similar answers, and surprisingly, even similar mistakes in subjects like Hindi and Sanskrit, was recently scheduled by the state board after the results were declared. Blatant similarities were spotted by the evaluators even before the suspected students were called for the hearing. These were detected from Morva Rena, another centre of Panchmahal district. Results of the suspicious cases have been withheld.
“Certainly this is a reason for concern for the state education department if such glaring copying cases are detected in language subjects which is otherwise considered to be easier than Maths and Science. This needs to be further investigated,” said a senior GSHSEB official of the examination branch.
After taking action against students — they have been barred from taking examinations for two-three years — the GSHSEB plans to follow it up with stringent action against teachers. “This year strict action will be taken against all those involved, right from teachers who assisted in mass copying to the centre supervisors,” said GSHSEB chairman A J Shah.
Since the 2017 board examinations, Panchmahal district has been under the radar of the examination branch of GSHSEB after huge variations were detected in the OMR marks and subjective answers of students appearing in some of the examination centres during 2018 class X board examinations.
Another reason for suspicion was tampering of the CCTV footage that was submitted to the board. The footage was missing at various intervals, leading to suspicion. When questioned, the examination centre in-charge blamed it on erratic power supply. On verification with the Gujarat State Electricity Board, the GSHSEB found that the report of the electricity board for the centre did not match with the missing portions in the footage.
“Since we were already doubtful about this particular centre, all these instances strengthened our doubts. We decided to investigate these cases and therefore directed the evaluators to keep the answer-sheets of students from this centre separate and not mix with the other districts. They were told to spot what is “common” and “unusually different” in these answer-sheets,” said GSHSEB Officer on Special Duty (OSD) M A Pathan.
What was found was that the essay on “My Best Friend” was almost identical in nearly all the 100 answer-sheets. It was lifted from one of the English guides commonly used by students. Not even the name of the “best friend” was changed in the answer-sheets, Pathan added.
Among the 96 suspect answer-sheets, there were several that were written by girls as well.
“When we enquired from the girls, in front of their parents accompanying them, about their best friend ‘Vikram’, while a few hesitated, others admitted claiming that they have such a friend in class IX, one class junior to them,” said an examination committee member who conducted the hearing.
While other members claimed that during hearings it was learnt that these students had never heard of tennis, and when asked to write some of the words used by them in the essay, they failed to do so. Many even failed to write their own names in English.