Students will be awarded the same marks they scored in English paper I

Education: Class XII’s English paper II, that was leaked before the examination, won’t be re-conducted and its answer sheets abandoned, decided the Bhutan Council for School Examinations and Assessment (BCSEA) board at an emergency meeting yesterday afternoon.

Except for the board member from India, the remaining five members, including the education minister, had three options at hand excluding the choice to do nothing – validating English marks based on English I marks, re-examination of the paper, or identifying candidates who got the leaked question paper.

BCSEA secretary, Kinga Dakpa, said the council was prepared to implement any of the decisions.

“The board in its wisdom took this professional decision, to award English I marks for English II, as the two papers are related,” he said.

This means, students will be awarded the same marks they scored in English paper I. Officials said English paper I and II are complementary and closely correlated.

“For instance, the performance in papers I and II for the past three years, 2011 to 2013 board examinations, indicated that these two papers showed a correlation of 0.7736, which means the performance of students in both the papers had very strong correlation,” Kinga Dakpa said.

“This means if a student did well in the first paper, the student also scored good marks in the second paper.”

Moreover, most language skills tested in the second paper are also usually covered in the first paper such as essay, and story writing. “Besides, not all students had access to the leaked question paper,” he said.

This option was taken given the limited time factor, financial implications, and series of hassles and logistical problems of conducting the re-examination.

Redoing the examination would cost the government at least Nu 4M or a maximum of Nu 10.942M, Council officials said. It covers printing question papers, transportation, and allowances to teachers deployed for conducting the examination and marking the paper, among others.

“That is not considering the cost to parents of the students,” another official said.

Some students Kuensel spoke to say, English I was more difficult than the second paper.

“So I was kind of hoping English II to pull my marks in the subject,” a student said.

Kinga Dakpa said the board dwelled on this issue and it felt that it was natural that some would feel that way. “The board has taken the best decision that was available,” he said.

It would not hamper the board examination results, and declaration of the results would remain unchanged.

“So the admission and scholarship activities that depend on the class XII results won’t be affected,” Kinga Dakpa said.

The board also directed the Council to continue investigating and to find out how the question paper was leaked and to fix accountability at the earliest.

Kinga Dakpa said the council would get to the root of the matter and penalise the guilty as per relevant laws.

Teachers involved in handing the question papers, according to BCSEA officials, sign undertaking of confidentiality and proper care of the papers.

“As directed we’ll review our current practices and procedures, and put in place series of mechanisms to avoid similar occurrences in the future and strengthen our overall conduct of national examinations with strategic plans to counter such unforeseen incidences in future,” Kinga Dakpa said.

Meanwhile, the answer sheets of the paper are nullified. “The leak was sporadically spread among the candidates of many schools across the country texting through mobile phones,” he said.

The investigation could not confirm the number of students and schools it was leaked to. “The widespread leak has rendered it invalid, so there is no use evaluating the paper,” Kinga Dakpa said.

Immediately after writing of English II examination, the last paper last year on December 13, word went round of the paper being leaked and the council was informed through the supervisor of Drukgyel HSS, Paro.

The Council started investigating and covered Paro, Thimphu, Chukha, Bumthang, and Samdrupjongkhar before confirming the leak on December 19.

Meanwhile, the evaluation of English I at the College of Science and Technology concluded yesterday.


By Tshering Palden