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First person: ‘With the CBSE leaks, I have lost my faith in the system,’ writes a Class 10 student

Being a Class 10 CBSE student in 2018, I am familiar with indecision and confusion. When the dreaded boards were re-introduced this year, all I sensed was impending doom – keeping in mind, of course, my affinity for melodrama. I could tell this would be a fairly drastic change from the continuous evaluation method that actually showed a certain amount of respect for the students. Yet, I remained optimistic, even though as the year dragged by, I continued to lose faith in my academic competence.

As the boards drew closer, I grew more panicky. My future would not depend on the exams, I was told. I was lucky enough to have parents who remained supportive and reminded me that my mental health was the priority. Not all of my friends and fellow students had the same privilege. January passed, my pre-boards sent my batch into a collective fit of anxiety and our subject allotment forms were handed out. I watched as my batch-mates and I were faced with the prospect of making decisions that would seemingly change our lives, and as the science aspirants grew increasingly anxious about not being given their preferred subjects in Class 11.

But at least it would all be over soon, right? This stress-filled, panic-inducing year would conclude in a blaze of glory, and we would move on to studying subjects of our choices. I am aware, of course, that I am speaking from a position of privilege – being part of a reasonably well-off family, with supportive parents – as opposed to so many of my peers across the country with problems such as adverse mental health issues, authoritarian parents, and negligent schools, not to mention basic issues like struggling with paying school fees or even being able to afford private coaching. It is a sad truth that the problems faced by students in this country are endless.

‘Maths paper has leaked’

On the verge of my first board exam (English, held on March 12), I realised what a gap there was between my learning process and my preparation. All I had learnt during this crucial period preceding the boards was how to memorise efficiently and how to control my anxiety – and that too, not very successfully. The night before each exam was a mess. Despite having the lights off at 10 pm, after having taken all the steps necessary to bring myself into a relaxed state of mind, I lay awake tossing and turning for hours, unable to shake the anxiety. The entire year had been leading up to this.

The maths exam was no different. In fact, in many ways, it was much worse. I have always had a shaky relationship with the subject, and I look forward to dropping it in Class 11. No calming techniques that my therapist had walked me through could help this time. I had instilled in myself an innate desire to crack this without having much of an idea of how to go about it – always a dangerous combination.

The evening before the exam, I was told that the question paper had been leaked. By this point, I was well aware of the fact that the majority of exams had had their question papers leaked, so this was no different. On the morning of the exam, the exam centre was buzzing. Nearly everyone had received the leaked paper in one form or another.

Cut to a few hours later, after the exam had ended. Mine had gone fairly decently, and for once, I felt happy and satisfied as I walked out of my centre. No more maths! The thought echoed in my head as I walked away from the dreaded classroom.

No faith in system

Not even a full two hours later, my mother called me up with the news. A re-examination. I burst into laughter, because it was hilarious how the CBSE had finally decided to provide a semblance of taking action about the leaks.

My social media erupted. Everyone was up in arms, as many of us discussed the circular. Apparently, this had been done out of a need to preserve the sanctity of the examinations, a statement everyone laughed at. What sanctity? We had learnt how much of a joke the Class 10 exams really were, with papers being leaked before every single exam.

Various aspects of this situation have been discussed: the CBSE must be held accountable, this will disrupt the schedules of all CBSE schools, students’ plans will be disrupted, and so on. I will not be bringing anything new to the table by addressing these points. What I would like to address, however, is my constant and unfailing disappointment in the institution. The number of questionable decisions made by the CBSE recently are endless, and this incident is one that puts its incompetency in the public eye.