Published:  12:50 AM, 14 February 2018

When absurdity is at work . . .

The authorities are clearly at sea regarding the ways in which question paper leaks can be tackled. They have been trying out one method after another, all of which has given people the impression that they do not quite know what to make of the situation. A few days ago, it was given out that the internet would be shut down all over the country at particular times during the day.

That naturally led to uproar and of course for the right reasons. One does not expect an entire system to be closed off to citizens because of an examination. But if that is the method that is followed in order to make something work, it is a wrong and misguided one. It shows the inability of those in the corridors of power to be on top of the situation or even to have a clear idea of the problem.

The latest that we have on the issue of question paper leaks is the decision by the ministry of education to stop any operation or presence of mobile phones near examination centers. That is absurdity at its best, for the simple reason that banning mobile phones at or near exam centers will have little impact on the examinations. Besides, there is the important question of how the authorities will handle a situation where a citizen happens to be going by an exam centre, perhaps even speaking on his cell phone as he does so.

Will this citizen be hauled up for a crime that he does not commit? Indeed, will anyone who goes by an exam centre with a mobile in his hand be slapped with measures that could put him into deep trouble? We ask the question because of the many instances of arbitrary behavior which the police have in recent times demonstrated toward citizens. People have been picked by the police and carted off to police stations on mere suspicion of being involved in opposition politics. Innocent men have suffered badly.

The education authorities, indeed the government as a whole, needs to do better than going for improvisation. The education ministry and especially the minister for education have certainly not been doing a good job and have sadly not taken responsibility for their inefficiency. If questions at exams go on being leaked, some heads should roll. We are surprised that nothing of the kind has happened, that in fact what has been happening is an attempt to plug one hole even as another opens nearby. It has had a bad impact on education and one is not quite sure when this badly damaged education system will turn around and give us new hope about not all being lost.

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