Today is the first day of month long Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) board examinations, conducted by the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE). Around 3.4 lakh class 12 students will appear for the exams from over 500 centres in Mumbai Division, which includes Mumbai, Thane, Raigad and Palghar districts. Across the state, close to 15 lakh students will write their HSC exams.
To curb the rampant practice of paper leaks, the state board has made it mandatory for a police official to accompany the ‘runner’ or the assistant custodian, who delivers the question papers to the exam centre. The runner will be barred from using a mobile phone and will have to remain at the centre until the exam ends. Each centre will have a different runner for every exam.
The invigilators have also been instructed to open the question papers only in the exam hall after taking a signature from any one student appearing for the exams.
“It is known that runners and invigilators were viewing the question papers and were using their mobile phones to take photos with the aim of circulating them,” said Krishnakumar Patil, the in-charge chairman of MSBSHSE. In 2017, there were six incidents of students being caught with question papers before the exam commenced. In 2018, an image of chemistry question paper was found on the phone of a student. This led to arrest of four persons. Last year, SSC exam papers were leaked in Bhiwandi by teachers and coaching institutes. Patil said, “We have created a lot of awareness among students and teachers on serious implications of being caught cheating. We have also devised undisclosed measures to keep a tab on suspicious activities.” While every centre will have two constables on duty, senior officers will pay surprise visits during exams.
To help students with exam-related stress and anxiety, the board has deputed 10 mental health counsellors in each division who are accessible 24 hours through helpline numbers. Each centre will also have to send to the board daily updates on the number of students present and absent, details of the invigilators and the in-charge of exam.