5.5 lakh students drop out of 2018 UP board exams over strict anti-copying measures

UP Board, one of the world’s largest examination bodies, has a system of advance registration for high school and intermediate exams.

Around 550,000 candidates have opted out from the final registration for Class 10 and Class 12 board examinations to be held in 2018, in what could be the effect of a crackdown on the copying mafia in Uttar Pradesh, sources said on Monday.

The number of dropouts is over and above the average number of at least 150,000 lakh students, who skip registration each year due to various reasons such as failure in pre-board classes to family problems.

Though UP Board officials are yet to carry out an in-depth analysis of the figures, sources said about 28-30% of such students are likely to be girls.

These students registered themselves in Class 9 and Class 11 last year.

UP Board, one of the world’s largest examination bodies, has a system of advance registration for high school and intermediate exams in which students of class 9 and 11 need to register for high school or Class 10 and intermediate or Class 12 examinations.

UP Board secretary Neena Srivastava confirmed the substantial rise in the dropouts as compared to registrations made last year.

“This includes a number of such individuals who had registered under fake names last year but have opted out in light of the various strict measures taken by us to check all malpractices and ensure clean and fair board exams,” Srivastava said.

The registration process for the 2018 board exams will end on September 13. Though the students have the option to register themselves till October 3 with a late fee of Rs 100, Board officials associated with the process for the past years said the next two days would account for over 95% of students registering.

“We have around 700,000 dropouts among the students who had registered last year under the advance registration system. Even if we deduct 150,000 lakh students who drop out every year, still there is a surge of almost 550,000 students who will not register for the board exams,” a senior UP Board official said.

Students of flood-hit districts of the state have been provided extra time for registering but the board officials have also taken these districts into account while calculating the figure of dropout students.

Last year, UP Board introduced a number of reforms such as coded copies, strict evaluation, and cross-checking of marks awarded by examiners by their supervisors. It also made the process for appointing schools as exam centres online, which acted as a deterrent for copying mafia. This resulted in an increase in the number of students opting out of the exams.

Steps like doing away with the option of changing the names of parents or students and their date of birth at the time of registration have also helped in checking illegal practices.

“The copying mafia often resorted to advance registrations on fake names and details and then tailoring them in accordance with the details of clients with whom they struck a deal. At the time of final registrations, they got the changes made on the pretext of corrections,” an official said.

Experts have told the Hindustan Times the number of students clearing the high school or Class 10 and Class 12 exam of the UP Board fluctuated significantly in the past decade due to strict anti-copying measures implemented from time to time.

The lowest pass percentage of 40.07 in the high school exam was registered in 2008 and the highest at 87.66 was recorded in 2016. Similarly, in the intermediate exam, the lowest pass percentage of 65.05 was recorded in 2008 and the highest of 92.68 was registered in 2013.

This year, the overall pass percentage for Class 10 was recorded at 81.18 and in Class 12, 82.62% students were declared successful.

The board deployed strict measures to check use of unfair means in the exams and also provided coded answer sheets in 31 districts of the state that were identified as sensitive.

Over 60,61,030 candidates – 34,04,715 for Class 10 and 26,56,319 for Class 12 – registered for the high school and intermediate exams in 2017. However, due to strict vigilance, 594,503 candidates left the exams midway and 1862 examinees were caught copying.

Lal Mani Diwedi, the state general secretary of Uttar Pradesh Madhyamik Shikshak Sangh (UPMSS), told HT in June the political will to check copying has played a major role in determining the overall pass percentage in the exams.