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Sunday, 14 August 2016





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Allegations of frauds, irregularities, at examination centres:

Exams: Running the gauntlet

Pic: ANCL Media Library

Despite many incidents of irregularities and frauds reported at this year’s Advanced Level examination, education authorities claim that the numbers of such incidents have fallen significantly this year due to the stringent steps taken by them. According to the Commissioner General of Examinations W.M.N.J Pushpakumara, while 150 incidents were reported last year only 48 have been reported to date, this year. “Compared to previous years, incidents of fraud and irregularities have reduced this year,” he said adding that of the 48 cases only three are considered to be serious violations. “Minor incidents such as, copying occurred this year as well, which is a common fraud,” he said.

According to him, the Department was able to achieve this feat due to the introduction of strict regulations. “For example this year we introduced a ban of five years if a student is caught having a mobile or smart electronic device in their possession during the exam,” he said, adding that examination officers were uncompromising and enforced this regulation strictly. The Department had also stepped up supervision during the examinations in all districts while a special operations room has been established to receive complaints. “We took immediate action when people lodged complaints,” he said, citing the example of the investigations and sacking of various officers for irregularities and fraud.


However, despite the reduction of reported complaints and incidents, severe allegations have been levelled against a number of schools and their principals, as well as zonal education directors of districts identified as educationally disadvantaged by the University Grants Commission. These districts, namely, Nuwara Eliya, Hambantota, Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Ampara, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Badulla and Moneragala have low Z-Score levels and have an allocated National Quota of five percent to receive university admission.

Two such serious incidents of exam fraud saw the interdiction of the principals of St. Xavier’s College, Nuwara Eliya and Al Hira Muslim Vidyalaya, Nattandiya. Shockingly, both Principals had aided and abetted external students of other districts such as Kandy and Kurunegala to sit the examination through the school, thereby giving them a better chance at gaining entrance to government universities, due to the low Z-score in the districts. According to reliable sources the A/L science section of St. Xavier’s College has not been in operation since 2012 while each year students from other districts had been allowed by the Principal to appear for examinations from the science stream, in return allegedly, for monetary gain.

“We interdicted them immediately following investigations as they were found to have clearly violated the circular issued in 2008 prohibiting candidates appearing for examinations from districts they do not belong to,” Pushpakumara said. According to JVP Parliamentarian Bimal Rathnayake students of other districts abused the situation by falsely appearing as candidates from educationally disadvantaged districts. “We have received information that students from Jaffna, Batticaloa and Colombo are sitting exams fraudulently in this manner and appearing as students from Nuwara Eliya,” he said, adding that the child of a prominent public official of the district who originally attended a leading school in Colombo has been found to be sitting exams at Holy Trinity College in Nuwara Eliya.

Attendance list

“We also have been informed that some schools in the district had maintained two attendance lists of students in a deceitful manner,” he added. MP Rathnayake claims, students from University of Jaffna and Eastern University had impersonated students and written answers on their behalf for the A/L Tamil medium Physics paper.

Going further and making a serious allegation, MP Rathnayake alleged that Zonal Education Directors are involved in the fraud as well, having taken almost 500,000 rupees as bribes to support exam fraud by producing fake documents.

However, according to Pushpakumara even though the Department has received complaints regarding fraudulent candidates from other areas, they have not received any complaints of impersonations or bribes, yet. He said, the department is doing their utmost to ensure that examinations are held in a fair manner to all students.

“If any matters of impersonation are reported we have advised the Police to arrest the suspect(s) immediately,” he said.

In the wake of the scandal, State Minister for Education V.S Radhakrishnan admitted that frauds pertaining to A/L examinations have been reported in 17 schools in the Nuwara Eliya district.

Meanwhile, the Educational Non-Academic Staff Union accused the Department of Examinations of using the services of outsiders for examination hall duties and coordination, saying it has contributed to the disruption of the exam in some schools. “There are currently over 25,000 non-academic staff, whereas only 3,500 are needed for exam duty,” General Secretary of the Union Ajith K. Tillakaratne said, it is questionable why the Department needs to hire outsiders. He alleges, it paves the way for exam fraud. “The Kurunegala Welagedara Vidyalaya is one such place where outsiders are being put on duty,” he accused.

The Department of Examinations has currently launched a full scale investigation into all complaints and allegations, says Commissioner General Pushpakumara. According to him zonal directors, especially, of the Central and Wayamba districts have been told to investigate all schools to ensure that no further wrongdoing occurs. He said, currently investigations are continuing regarding the incidents at St. Xavier’s and Al Hira Colleges.

Strict action

When questioned if any money had exchanged hands in the incident Pushpakumara said, it is too early to say, as investigations are still going on. “I am not sure what motivated the Principals to act in such a manner, however, if they are found to have taken bribes the case will be reported to the Bribery Commission” he said.

The Principals in the schools are responsible and those interdicted have clearly violated regulations and circulars, according to Pushpakumara who said, such people are a disgrace and not suitable for their positions. He said, District examination officials are responsible to cross check entries and ensure that students attend these schools as claimed. Pushpakumara stressed, no injustice will be allowed to other students sitting the exam in a fair manner.The public can lodge complaints regarding examination frauds or irregularities to the Sri Lanka Examinations Department on their 24 hour hotlines 1911/ 0112784208 / 0113188350 / 0113140314.

This year’s A/L Examinations commenced on August 2 and will go until August 27 in 2, 204 examination centres. According to the Department of Examinations, around 315,000 candidates are sitting the examinations this year, of which 240,000 are school applicants and 74, 000 private applicants.

Around 27,500 invigilators have been dispatched to examination centres around the country. Candidates this year were severely warned about the usage of mobile phones, smart watches or calculators during the exam.


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