State mulls online delivery of SSLC, PU question papers


DHNS

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In a bid to prevent leakage, the state government is toying with the idea of delivering Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) and pre-university (PU) question papers to exam centres online.

For long now, experts have held that the existing practice of storing question papers in government treasuries and transporting them by road to exam centres was prone to leakage.

“We are looking at transmitting question papers through a virtual private network (VPN),” Primary and Secondary Education Minister Tanveer Sait told DH.

A virtual private network is a secure tunnel between two or more devices, which is most often used to protect sensitive data. The plan is to send question papers over a secure network to exam centres where they will be printed before the exam. The model is similar to the online question paper delivery system (QPDS) that Visvesvaraya Technological University implemented four years ago.

“Question papers transmitted via a VPN will be coded. It cannot be accessed unless it is decoded,” Sait explained.

This was apparently tried internally in small centres where 200-300 students can write an exam.

“We can manage in smaller centres. For large exam centres, where 1,000-2,000 students write an exam, we’re looking for high-speed printers,” he said.

The minister said: “A question paper will have 14-16 pages, of which we will need 3,000 printouts. We’ll need printers that can dish out so many copies.”

About 15 lakh students appear for the SSLC and PU exams every year. The government came under severe attack when the II PU chemistry question paper was leaked twice in a span of 10 days last year.

“Online question paper delivery is a proven technology today,” said Nagendran Sundararajan, executive vice-president at testing firm MeritTrac. “Given the inherent vulnerability of the age-old process, technology is becoming mandatory to ensure sanctity of exams.”

Plans are afoot to replace teachers with computers in setting question papers. “We are creating a question bank that a computer can randomize,” Sait said. A bank of 40,000 questions is being prepared, a source said.

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