HUNDREDS of people have signed an online petition, which challenges a decision to force students in Bahrain to retake two exams following allegations of cheating.
The GDN reported on Monday that it was believed question papers were leaked after one school conducted the grade 11 biology and business studies exams a day earlier than planned.
Students of four other schools, which follow the same curriculum, were then allegedly supplied copies of the test papers before their own exams – giving them an unfair advantage.
All of the schools teach the same curriculum offered by the Central Board of Secondary Examinations (CBSE) New Delhi.
Heads of the five schools met on Tuesday and agreed to conduct the exams again on February 25, this time with completely different questions supplied by the CBSE.
However, the decision has prompted the launch of an online petition allegedly created by parents.
“It isn’t easy writing an exam from the start again, especially subjects like business studies,” argues the petition on the change.org website.
“The students should not suffer for the mistakes caused by the school authorities.
“One of the biggest blunders caused by the school authorities and the students are to undergo further stress and strains to prepare for an exam which they already attended.
“In such a case, the school shouldn’t conduct a retest, but instead either pass all students by default, or conduct an evaluation based on the answer sheets as written.”
More than 470 people had signed the petition within hours of it appearing online yesterday.
The decision affects grade 11 students of the New Indian School, Indian School Bahrain, Ibn Al Haytham Islamic School, New Millennium School – DPS and Al Noor International School.
It was the New Indian School that wrongly held the examinations on Saturday, a day before the others despite a common schedule being agreed.
“It is an unethical and unfair decision by the principals, as the majority of students took the exams without knowing anything about the leak,” said one Indian School parent, who asked not to be named.
“How fair it is to punish all these students for the mistake committed by one school and its staff?
“The principals should rethink this solution.”
Another parent, whose child is a pupil at Al Noor International School, called on the CBSE to take punitive action.
“I don’t want my child to suffer for a mistake by one school,” said the parent on condition of anonymity.
“This matter should be highlighted to the CBSE board and there should be action.
“Who monitors these question papers? If any teacher can open a question paper package any time they please, we have every reason to question whether this happened before as well.
“My son is supposed to travel on February 22 after his exams, but this new test will upset his travel plans related to his future studies.”
However Al Noor International School CBSE section head Dr Deepa Talwar said it was normal procedure to hold new exams in the event of a question paper leak.
“Whenever a question paper leak is reported, a new exam is the solution,” said Dr Talwar, who heads the CBSE’s representative body in Bahrain.
“In India we have seen this.
“When a case is reported, be it in just one state, a new exam is conducted across the country.
“A mistake has happened which cannot be revoked and, of course, by one school.
“We had a lengthy discussion on this and both the principal and the director (of New Indian School) apologised for the mistake, which apparently was an internal miscommunication.
“We are ready to help students who are travelling and they can discuss this with their individual schools.”
She added that the CBSE board in India had not been notified of the error, despite parents’ complaints.
“The CBSE Bahrain chapter is responsible for setting question papers and the conduct of grade 11 exams,” she explained.
“The CBSE board is not directly involved, hence we haven’t notified the board yet.
“However, we will explain if asked. As per the law of the land, we have reported the matter to the Education Ministry (in Bahrain).”
The Education Ministry and New Indian School officials could not be reached for comment.