BCSEA board to decide within two days

Education: The government will trace every student, teacher or government official that was involved in leaking the Class XII English II paper and penalise them, the Prime Minister said yesterday.

Lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay said regardless of the decision the BCSEA board takes; the government is determined to find out the person responsible for distributing the questions.

“Every student who distributed the questions by SMS, we’re going to find them and penalise them because this is not done,” Lyonchhoen said.

Every teacher involved in receiving this question and coaching the students, would also be penalised, Lyonchhoen said. “This is totally unacceptable, and we’re going to penalise them,” he said. “Otherwise the credibility of our examination system is at stake.”

The government said it is concerned about the students and that it would have to make a decision on how to move ahead. The government would also support the board’s decision as long as the decision was well considered.

“We can’t see any possibility at the moment,” he said. “They’ve spent 13 years in school and to have this happen to them at the big examination is unacceptable.”

Education Minister and chairman of the Bhutan Council for School Examination and Assessment (BCSEA) board, Mingbo Dukpa said the board’s decision drew public outcry and strong reactions from the students.

“The Cabinet was seriously concerned on the concerns expressed by the public, and they requested if the BCSEA board could reconsider its earlier decision,” the education minister said.

Since then BCSEA board has been reconsidering its earlier decision on validating the results on English II based on English paper I. Following the Cabinet’s instruction, the BCSEA board have held thorough meetings for the past two days.

Lyonpo Mingbo Dukpa said the board has also realised that whatever decision it took, it won’t be desirable because the situation at hand was undesirable.

“From the board’s side, we are looking at how we could come up with the best option that would not create too much of hassles for the children and at the same time the outcome is fair,” Lyonpo Mingbo Dukpa said, adding that the board would decide within the next two days.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said the Cabinet discussed the issue because ministers were concerned that the BCSEA board perhaps needed more time to arrive at the best possible decision.

“They should not rush into any decision and we wanted them to consider all factors carefully before they arrive at a decision,” Lyonchhoen said. “No outcome would be acceptable to all the people because some had access to the leaked questions while others didn’t.”

The decision to award English I marks to English II has certain risks which would affect the lives of many students, Lyonchhoen said but added that the board was also correct because there is a correlation between English I and II and those who do well in English I do well in the second paper and vice versa.

“There’s a strong correlation so there is technically a very strong case for awarding English I marks to English II without evaluating the English II papers,”Lyonchhoen said.

While some may then argue on why teach the subjects separately, Lyonchhoen explained that the subjects are different but are strongly correlated in marks. “If we don’t teach English II, our children are not going to study literature but having taught literature, you have to have a good understanding of English I, grammar, to understand English literature. So both subjects are needed.”

It was for this reason that many in the Cabinet, Lyonchhoen said, felt that technically it was a sound and may even be the best decision although it’ll not be received well by many students.

“Almost every child who does not qualify for college is going to blame it on the results,” he said. “We thought about this long and hard in the Cabinet and said we can’t allow our children to live their lives like this because students especially those who don’t get into college are going to blame the result throughout their lives.”

It was for these reasons Lyonchhoen said that the Cabinet wanted BCSEA to revisit its decision and that the government would support its decision if the board still felt that their earlier decision was the best.

Lyonchhoen said for the government, the safest way out was to redo the examination and nobody could criticise them then.  “But that could be irresponsible on the part of the government, so we’ve asked BCSEA to look into that,” he said.

However, the Cabinet also discussed on what would happen if the government was unable to get all the students for a reexamination. It is also possible that some students could pretend not to hear about it.

“So even if our children are able to make it to school, which is going to be logistically difficult and dangerous at this time of the year, there is no guarantee that all children would be covered, which could also be a problem,” Lyonchhoen said.

He said some students did not know about the leak before the paper while some could have treated the questions, exchanged in text messages through mobile phones, as hoax.

“If it is as widespread as we fear, at least one parent would have reported to the authorities or a student would have informed a teacher and teacher would have informed the BCSEA about it,” he said. “I don’t believe that we’re that corrupt as a nation that the paper was leaked far and wide and none knew anything.”


By Tshering Palden

 Additional reporting by Dechen Tshomo


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