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The phrase “paper leak” is very old. However, today the size of the leak and frequency of such leaks has increased many folds. If I compare the weight of class ten mark sheets today to its value of yesteryear’s or for that matter if I compare the value of graduation today to doing Matric in my days, it is almost the same.  I find that use of certificate of tenth today is only for authentication of your name and date of birth for any official document you have to make as per government directions.

In the good old days a tenth pass meant something very prestigious. In case it was a “first class” that meant that you were part of the intelligentsia of that time. Distinction meant that no one could ever look down upon you. By the way first class was just sixty percent. Today, if I say I have got 60 percent marks, no one will give me a job of a peon. Perforce the only job which the government would force me to do would be to become an entrepreneur, for which the government promises a handsome low interest loan. To do what! To make “pakoras” of course. Chai I won’t try as I may land up becoming the top notch administrator of this country.

As a school going kid I remember our teachers used to make us study hard. Extra classes, personal coaching in the hostel was a norm. All academic doubts used to be addressed; every possible book on earth was made available for practice. Tests used to be held time and again. Of course I cannot forget the ultimate weapon called the “Chittar” which worked as the ultimate “kunji”.

It used to be a challenge to find out which teacher is setting the paper. Our morale used to fluctuate as per the teacher’s reputation. So if Sir “A” is setting the paper meant one will barely get passing marks. We used to hope that Sir “B” should set the paper. There used to be a fair chance of passing with a little grace marks and leniency if required.

The teachers used to give us subtle hints during practice sessions that this question should be expected. Just knowing that much used to give us confidence that friend I shall be definitely promoted this year without a retest. Many of us still used to fail. Nevertheless, it did not matter as the focus used to be to play every game, remain ever naughty and still at the end of the year look forward to be promoted.

Students in those days also used to try and get hold of the question papers. Meticulous planning used to be done. Once the teacher setting the paper was identified, after school his desk in the staff room used to be the target. If nothing was found there then every carbon paper which used to come out of the stencil used to be focused on. In my school, final papers used to be printed in our printing press. If still no success was there then the printing press wala uncle was befriended. I remember he used to join two cigarettes, place it between his pinky and ring finger, cup his fist and then take a long swig of that unique two in one cigarette in dum maro dum style. If that endeavour of offering him his brand of cigarettes’ too failed then copying was another means used. Chits were also popular, along with peeping into the neighbour’s sheet.

Social media has taken this paper leak to the next level. Within one second the question paper is circulated all over the world. Today, I know getting admissions to a good college is difficult as the cut offs are very high. I want to understand were these papers leaked for students who were weak in the subject or to score cent percent or has it become a commercial business to earn a fast buck. What is going to be achieved out of it? Nothing may be an appropriate word.

Where are we heading as a country as far as these exams are concerned? We are encouraging mugging and memorising only. All those people who can by heart and vomit things on the answer sheet verbatim are bound to get better marks than a student who applies logic to solve questions. Reproduction of text books in copy paste style is the new norm; then we better have robots as students rather than having children in schools.

Can I choose a career today with my education, I can’t. Can I plan my child’s career, the answer is no? I land up in some job and my first job becomes my career. My child fights with the system to survive and then get a job. Our systems keep getting corrupt and difficult by the day. Money is the new answer to every question paper and job. Is there a guarantee that the retest paper will not be leaked and citizens will not be inconvenienced? I wonder!!!!!!!!


 © Noel Ellis