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Phone ban for exam hall staff

Invigilators and non-teaching employees will not be allowed to carry their cell phones in Madhyamik exam halls following complaints that some of them had been encouraging or abetting cheating.

The West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) has decided to impose the restriction after learning that a section of invigilators and non-teaching staff had helped students cheat during last year’s Madhyamik.

The cell phone bar for students already exists.

The 2014 Madhyamik will be held between February 24 and March 6.

One of the complaints stated that unscrupulous invigilators contacted subject teachers over the phone and leaked the questions immediately after the papers were distributed among the examinees, a board source said. They allegedly took the answers and passed on the information to the students.

Another allegation was that off-duty teachers and non-teaching staff at some schools had walked into the exam halls and taken out copies of question papers after distribution among the students. These employees gathered the answers from outside and slipped the information to the examinees via invigilators and non-teaching staff in the venues, the source said.

The board has decided to direct school heads to stop teachers and staff on exam duty from leaving the campus until the test was over so that the smuggling of question papers could be curbed.

“Staff deployed to invigilate will be prohibited from carrying cell phones inside exam halls during Madhyamik this year,” said Kalyanmoy Ganguly, administrator, WBBSE. “We will not allow any teacher, employee or official of the school to leave the premises before the exam is over,” Ganguly added.

Teachers and staff members will either have to come to the venue without a cell phone or deposit the device at the headmaster’s office before entering the exam hall.

The government had some years ago banned exam-duty staff from carrying phones in the halls but very few followed the rule in the absence of a written order. “The board will issue a written order soon,” a board official said.

The phone ban is part of the board’s plan to check examination malpractices. Police vigil at the 2,661 exam centres and video surveillance in at least 56 venues, identified as sensitive, are lined up too.

“Police presence alone will not help stop cheating if we don’t plug the loopholes in the system,” the source added.

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