Education board in India partners with Microsoft to provide encrypted question papers for school exams

Abhishek Baxi

Microsoft India

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), the national education board in India, has partnered with Microsoft India to digitally encrypt question papers for Class X and XII examinations.

The initiative would enable enhanced security and seamless distribution of the papers. Earlier this year, a couple of CBSE examination question papers were leaked and some students were able to access the same beforehand.

The solution was successfully tested as a pilot project in the recently held Class X compartmental examinations across 487 examination centres with approximately 4000 students. For the pilot test, multiple mock trials were conducted with the CBSE team and Microsoft experts to ensure seamless adoption and familiarity with the process.

The software solution is built on Windows 10 and Office 365 will allow the Controller of Examinations to track the entire automated process. As part of the process, a CBSE administrator will initiate the distribution of exam papers which will result in the generation of emails to the respective centres with a link to OneDrive where an exam paper, specific to the exam centre can be downloaded. The solution leverages features in Office 365 to encrypt and watermark the papers. The watermark has the individual centre’s code imprinted on it which allows for localization and traceability in the eventuality of a paper leak.

A strong education ecosystem is key to our nation’s development and Microsoft and CBSE are deeply committed to digitally transform the sector. Innovative implementation of technology has the potential to solve some of the most pressing issues faced by the sector. The success of this partnership with CBSE is proof of that potential. I am confident we are well on the way towards a digitally empowered education ecosystem.

– Anil Bhansali, Corporate Vice President – Cloud & Enterprise, Managing Director, Microsoft India (R&D)

The solution enables the process to be highly secure with encryption and two-factor authentication and allows access to download the exam papers at the examination centre only 30 minutes prior to start time. The digitization process also saves significant time and cost for exam administrators due to online paper generation, automated delivery process, as well as a reduction in approval cycles.