A dark future

Photo: bdnews24.com

The topic of this piece is something that has already been written about a lot in the past month or so, and by people far more important than me. News reports have been made on the issue, and in the last couple of weeks people have come out on the streets to express their discontent, to put it mildly. Yet all of these seem to have fallen on deaf ears, with no more than the most perfunctory of responses from the concerned authorities. In fact, it would seem that the authorities are not even willing to accept the validity of our concerns.

Better names than me have been ignored when it comes to this issue. Hundreds of people united in this cause have not been able to make any apparent difference either. Why then do I still choose to write about it? Put simply, to be clear to my own conscience and to know that I did not stay silent and seem apathetic about something this dire.

I am referring to what has been going on with the HSC exams this year. It began with a few tangential mentions over social networks. Apparently some websites and forums were posting “suggestions” for the different HSC exams just a few days prior to the exam in question, and then somehow those very same questions were appearing on the actual exam. To stop beating around the bush, someone was methodically leaking exam questions for different subjects, always just a few days before the actual exam.

Now, the question for a central countrywide exam of this calibre being leaked is very bad news in itself, but there is something even more unnerving about this issue. Question papers being “outed” has been a thing in Bangladesh for as long as I can remember. Sometimes it’s a small school exam, sometimes a board exam, sometimes even a college admissions exam. However, in all those past incidents it was some quarter leaking the question paper to willing buyers, in an effort to make some money in the process. This time though, things are different. Whoever is behind all this is simply making the question papers available online where anyone could get hold of them. This is not about financial gain. This is about causing chaos. I will not get into all the possible conspiracy theories about whoever is behind this. What I will emphasise, however, is that whoever it may be, the government has to go after them with full strength and put an end to this horror.

We live in a country where there is no end to the variety of horrors, a country where crime and injustice has reached a level where mere murder no longer bothers us. Now it has to be murder and then being hacked to pieces, or murder and then being burnt to ashes, or a countless other gruesome alternatives. In a country like this, it may well seem like a luxury to fret about an act of corruption like leaking exam questions. Nevertheless, this is not a trivial crime by any means. If it has not been made clear already from the reactions of several HSC candidates themselves, this incident is forever destroying the credibility of the board exams, and destroying the self-esteem and morality of several candidates.

As a nation we have precious little to boast of. One of the things we have always been proud of is the talent and hard work of our young minds. It is no mean feat that from this country, chalk full of political instability, crime and a thousand other issues that make it unliveable at times, every year we get thousands of young men and women prove their mettle. We see them avail respected scholarships to attend schools abroad. We see them get hired by world class companies that any individual from any part of the globe would be proud to work in. In the midst of all that is wrong, we always seemed to have this one thing that is right – our young men and women are a brilliant, hard-working lot whose talent is recognised by the whole world.

Now it seems that we are on the verge of losing this one last thing too. With the HSC question debacle of this year, HSC grades for this batch will most definitely come into questioning from not just universities but also academic peers and seniors. Already students of a lot of prestigious universities are demanding that adequate steps be taken to ensure that the admission exam for the 2014 batch is harder, to compensate for the questions being leaked. Of course this is not fair to all those students who did not try to find out the leaked question, or did not get anyone to solve it for them. That is the problem with this whole scenario. The innocent ones, the ones with a conscience, will also suffer due to the acts of the others.

The examinees that somehow found a leaked question, and got it solved by someone, will most definitely do really well in those exams. For all we know, some of them might go on to get into decent schools and pursue decent careers. There can really be no bigger threat to the very fabric of future society than to let these people go unpunished. People who are taking a shortcut, employing underhanded tactics, in one of their very first major phases in life should be stopped as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it would seem that there is no immediate way to do that.

However, there are few things I would like to write here, in the hope that some of them might read it. I do not blame you, or hate you. I suppose it is natural in this country, where injustice is the norm, to feel that you are entitled to break a few rules yourself. I just want to warn you that it does not pay off in the long run. The most that your results in a board exam can get you is a chance to take the admission test in the big universities. But if you have not done the work, if you have not prepared yourself, you will not make it through the admission test, or through the college years. Regardless of what it may feel like right now, there is no shortcut in the pursuit of excellence. Please do not get tempted by these distractions. Already I have heard reports of a lot of examinees extremely upset about the second paper of mathematics not being leaked and how this affected their expected grades. This alone should warn you to not look for these shortcuts and do due diligence.

To the ones who have avoided this temptation so far, you have our gratitude. It is heartening to know that even in the midst of all this darkness, there are those who insist on not letting their light die out. It may seem unfair right now, but believe me when I say that someday you will look back at this stage in life and be thankful that you put in the effort and prepared yourself in the best way possible.

Finally, to the concerned authorities and in particular to the honourable education minister – please do something about this issue. I have always been interested in the direction that the education system of this country is taking, and will gladly admit that our education minister has executed several very important steps and made a lot of progress. However, one wrong act, one failure of this stature will be enough to wipe out all the successes you and your ministry has worked so hard for. Please do not belittle this issue or deny that it even happened. We want to remember you as the education minister who managed to have all textbooks delivered on time, the education minister who took great steps in improving primary education, the education minister who took us forward into light, not this darkness. Not this fear of a future full of today’s you who are either dishonest, or regretting their honestly and ethics.

Source: Bd news24

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