The Telegraph
Thursday , August 7 , 2014
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Board drops test paper scheme

The West Bengal Board of Secondary Education is likely to stop publishing test papers after a drastic slump in sales last year.

Board administrator Kalyanmoy Ganguly refused comment but sources said the board would not publish test papers from this year.

The board had started publishing Madhyamik test papers in 2012 following a proposal from the higher education department the year before. Sources said the proposal was the brainchild of chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

Over four lakh copies of the board’s test paper had been sold in the first year.

Last year, however, only about 48,000 copies had been sold, primarily because the board’s test paper lacked suggestions unlike the ones published by various teacher organisations.

“Since the board conducts Madhyamik, the test paper it publishes cannot contain suggestions or sample questions,” said an official of the board.

“In the first year, more than 4 lakh copies of our test paper could be sold within a few days because students thought that it would contain suggestions. The next year the candidates shunned the board test paper because it lacked suggestions and sample questions,” the official said.

Madhyamik and Higher Secondary test papers are now published by two organisations — the All Bengal Teachers Association (ABTA) and the State Teachers and Employees Association (STEA).

The test papers published by both contain the questions of previous years’ Madhyamik, questions of the selection tests at various schools and suggestions and sample questions for the next Madhyamik.

Education minister Partha Chatterjee said on Tuesday on the sidelines of a programme at the Academy of Fine Arts that he had asked the board to prepare a report on the printing and distribution of the last two years’ test papers and send it to the government as early as possible.

“We want to find out why the test papers published by the board were not distributed among students,” said Chatterjee.

The board had last year printed 300,000 copies of the test paper, of which only 48,000-odd were sold. The remaining copies are lying at the board office, a source said.

“The board had lost nearly a crore of rupees for not being able to sell all the copies,” the source said.

In 2012, when the board had published the test paper for the first time and sold nearly 4.15 lakh copies, it made a profit of nearly Rs 30 lakh.

The 85,000-odd copies that were left unsold in the first year were distributed free among needy students in the Jungle Mahal, Sunderbans, tea gardens and other areas of the state.

An ABTA member said the organisation had been publishing test papers since the 1930s.

“Our test papers are very popular among students and all the copies get sold within a few days of hitting the stand,” said the member of the pro-CPM teacher organisation.

However, a preliminary probe by the education department has revealed that the board had published the test paper late last year, which was one reason why the students bought other test papers.