CBSE partnered with Microsoft India to digitally encrypt question papers for Class X and XII examinations. This initiative was undertaken to enhance security and seamless distribution of the papers.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) took this step when it faced heavy criticism this year following the leak of class 10 mathematics paper and class 12 economics paper. The paper leaks triggered nation-wide outrage among students and parents.
This set the CBSE, which has 20,299 schools in the country, in action, paving the way for the partnership with Microsoft which developed an encrypted security solution for digital question papers for the board within a period of three months. The solution was successfully tested as a pilot project in the recently held Class X compartmental examinations, across 487 examination centers with approximately 4,000 students.
Anil Bhansali, Managing Di, ector, Microsoft India (R&D) and Corporate Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise, said, “We have developed for CBSE an innovative solution which makes question papers leak-proof until 30 minutes prior to the start of the examinations. But if the question papers get leaked after they are allowed to download (just half an hour before the start of the exam) due to some bad actors, the system allows easy traceability as question paper for each center are watermarked.”
CBSE partnered with Microsoft and at present, the solution is having its pilot run, but it has passed the first test with flying colors, Microsoft claimed.
The Controller of Examination can track the entire process using a software solution built on Windows 10 and Office 365. The overall process was automated to be highly secure with encryption, two-factor authentication, and access to download the exam papers at the examination center only 30 minutes prior to start time.
The solution leverages features in Office 365 to encrypt and watermark the papers. The watermark has the individual center’s code imprinted on it which allows for localization and traceability in the eventuality of a paper leak.
CBSE partnered with Microsoft and a CBSE administrator initiates the distribution of exam papers, which results in the generation of emails to the respective centers with a link to One Drive where an exam paper, specific to the exam center can be downloaded.
This digitization process saves significant time and costs for exam administrators due to online paper generation, automated delivery process, and reduction in approval cycles.
Mr. Bhansali added, “The system that we have developed for CBSE can be easily replicated for other boards or examination administrators. We will be happy to share it with other central or state authorities that conduct examinations for various purposes.”