Glitch in uploading selfie on CBSE app, school head fined Rs 50,000

Glitch in uploading selfie on CBSE app, school head fined Rs 50,000
Photo for representational purpose only (Source: Shutterstock) Shreya Roy Chowdhury | Feb 29, 2020 - 12:46 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: Earlier this week, after the conclusion of an exam, the principal of a Delhi Government school took a selfie of himself packing the papers.

This was as per the Central Board of Secondary Education’s instructions. As exam centre superintendent, he had to upload the image on a CBSE-designed mobile application, CMTM-CS. In this centre superintendent’s case, the photo did not upload correctly and now, he has been ordered by the CBSE to pay Rs 50,000 as fine.

Upon receiving the CBSE’s communication, the centre superintendent, who is also the principal of the school, called PD Sharma, general secretary, Vice and Principals’ Association of Delhi, VPAD. Sharma told the hassled principal what he told Careers360 – he had received at least half a dozen calls from various centre superintendents with similar complaints.

“I have told them no one will pay a single penny,” Sharma said. “There is no penalty for failures of their own staff, the problems with their systems. The CBSE just harasses us like this.”

The CBSE secretary, Anurag Tripathi, told Careers360 that heads of over 200 schools across the country have been similarly fined for not complying with instructions. He added that the board's objective is "not to collect fine" but to impose discipline and that if principals are able to prove there were glitches and make representations to the board, the fine may be lifted.

The mobile app

The mobile application was introduced in 2019 to “ensure safety of the exams”, says a letter sent to one of the Delhi principals. The mandatory use of the “geo-tagged and time-tagged” app to document the examination process was one of the measures adopted after the paper leaks in 2018.

But the selfies were introduced this year. From 2020, the CBSE requires centre superintendents to have their photos taken during four crucial steps - receiving “confidential material”, opening it, distributing it and later, sealing it, explained Tripathi. “It is all in real-time, so as soon as the picture gets clicked, it is uploaded on our servers,” he explained. This feature was introduced because even in 2019, principals were "delegating" duties assigned to them to other teachers. The CBSE prohibits such shifting of responsibility and believes this practice caused the paper-leak in 2018.

The Delhi principals, however, maintained that they were going by the book. “We have been doing everything but sometimes there is a signal problem or some other technical problem and we have to pay for it,” said another VPAD member. The CBSE letter says that failure to comply with all its directions could compromise the safety of the exam.

Apparently, the fine will have to be paid by the teachers out of their own pockets. “There is no fund for this sort of thing and Delhi Government officials are also saying it’s a CBSE issue so they can’t help,” he added.

‘Not tech-savvy’

Fines apart, the app is causing a host of problems, said Sharma. “All heads-of-school are not tech-savvy and those who were using basic phones have had to buy smartphones and pay for data from their own pockets,” he said. “But petty technical matters are being highlighted by the CBSE to impose penalties. This attitude of the CBSE’s is unexpected and unwelcome.”

Sharma is a centre superintendent too and said he had to buy a second smartphone with a different operating system because the app was malfunctioning on the one he was already using.

Sharma fears there will be more complaints during the course of the exams. “The exams started on February 15 and we haven’t covered even 10 percent of the process,” he said. “All the major exams are yet to take place. I am sure there will be many more such cases and penalties.” The CBSE 2020 exams end on March 30 for Class 12 and March 20 for Class 10.

Note: This copy has been updated to include the CBSE secretary's response to queries.

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