No cheating, please!
In spite of heavy, continuous and extensive rhetoric by the authorities concerned
over curbing deceitful means utilised during exams, it is no secret that the
immoral practice of employing wrong and nefarious methods in various forms for
success in academic tests is rampant at various levels in our education
Aug 2008: It is naturally contagious, exceptionally tempting, highly advantageous
(apparently), though a potentially risky business, but produces swift results
without strenuous efforts in the right direction. Sure, we are talking of unfair
and illegal ways to pass examinations … commonly known as "cheating".|
Other than students, the leading beneficiary of exam-linked
trickery, several other social elements are also believed to be involved in this
menace, which, in normal circumstances, cannot spread without being patronised
at different levels.
And while almost our entire education system is
abundant with exams-clearance related corruption, one believes the evil has its
very roots at the secondary school level, i.e., from grade six to 10 (or O'
Levels), where willingly or reluctantly, many students start thinking about
moving at speed. These students, in the age bracket of 11-15 years have been
kept under the spotlight in this piece.
If these learners gaining
education - that encompasses academic and character development - adopt devious
means during the exams for their progress then a sane individual does not need a
super computer to figure out what sort of setup the society shapes with minds
having gained maturity in fraudulent ways of life at the helm of national
affairs in various private and public sector organisations.
people are naturally expected to play a leading role in boosting the cultural
norms of a country. And if these individuals, who carry the vital responsibility
of spreading integrity across the length and breadth of a society, complete the
ladder of awareness, i.e., education in a crooked fashion then an unforeseen
turmoil encircles almost every department of life, very much observable in our
country these days.
Several methods of unfair means are adopted and
promoted at many of our private and public sector schools, which, if truth be
told, are pushing the country towards an unimaginable disorder. After entering
the secondary level, many innocent learners, due to various reasons, begin
dreaming of easier ways or shortcuts to pass their exams. By the time they make
grade eight or are at the threshold of grade nine, many of them, after joining
the senior learners' emblem at a school, start skewing in their
Being very realistic it should be conceded that many of our school
students, who clear their exams with illicit ways, dig their own grave, a fact
they realise the moment they embark on college/high school life.
perhaps by this time their minds become so calculated that it is almost
impossible for them to get back to the right path. The result: quietly growing
corrupt mentalities, sort of time bombs. Just imagine how many time bombs like
these are being set everyday across Pakistan.
There is a general
impression among the public that wrongdoings occur only at local government and
private schools and board exams. However, there have been some evidences, which
signal that discrepancies exist at the Cambridge examinations as
Besides the perpetrators (the students in this case), the
involvement of other stakeholders such as school authorities, influential
officials, law-enforcement organisations, teachers and invigilators in this
atrocious act is a common fact.
A few years back, a prominent educational
organisation in the country where students had been achieving an excessive
number of high grades, according to a reliable piece of information, was found
having grave anomalies during examinations.
Buying question papers
(before the prescribed exam date); substituting the actual candidate; arranging
help at the examination hall from oneself, fellow students or invigilator;
taking the test in an isolated environment far from the actual point and two
schools reaching an understanding to assist each other's students during board
exams are some of the very few and general methods used for cheating during
exams. There may be many other techniques too, known better to the culprits. The
reasons? There are many, depending upon the student's mental approach, which he
holds as a permanent feature.
Avoiding hard work, fear of failure, casual
up bringing by parents/guardians, a fragile understanding between the teacher
and the student, prevailing social environment that usually shows a sharp
inclination towards immorality, non-availability of competent teachers (only in
some cases, though it is no genuine excuse) and poor management of affairs by
schools and education boards - there can be so many reasons.
cases, a student does not get the attention of his teacher and parents
throughout the academic session, which leaves him introverted, and with no
visible guidance coming his way, he takes up wrong ways.
A grade nine
student, whose comment on cheating was sought, highlighted this tendency from a
slightly different angle. He expressed that social distances keep a learner away
from his parents, other family members and teachers, adding that the fright of
being admonished and ridiculed on a possible failure compels him to go towards
the wrong moral path. No one, he adds, thinks to go in-depth and know his
capacity to learn and absorb things taught at school.
minutely, the above grievance does carry some weight. On several occasions,
parents and teachers, in the rush that life brings with itself, do not try to
develop a strong bond with the young, a step which can do wonders for a growing
mind. A young pupil, who clearly requires proper supervision and confidence to
carry him or her through the exams, does not get any. This is not to say that
the student is entirely exempt from being held responsible for using wrong means
to succeed in the exams.
Interestingly, almost 95 per cent teachers, when
asked their opinion about "Why students cheat in exams?", selected the option of
"Just to pass the exams and move ahead" from among a total of five given choices
including: "To get admission in good colleges", "To surpass fellow students",
"To impress teachers and parents" and "Wealth factor (meaning good marks
bringing good results, good colleges and eventually good income through a
But on the other hand, an experienced coordinator
candidly chose "wealth factor", while emphasising that education seeking in our
society has become more or less wealth-oriented.
Two questions arise if
one were to believe her. Firstly, "Are the students so distant mentally from
their parents and teachers that they have made wealth their primary aim in the
present era of selfishness and avarice?" Second, if the answer of the first
question is "yes" (though I wish it isn't) then where are we, or rather our
youth, heading to?
On inquiring who is truly responsible for cheating in
the exams, around 75 per cent (grade six to 10) teachers, blamed the government
institution-run education system, ignoring the choices of the students
themselves, teachers, parents and corrupt social environment, clearly signifying
that the state's education machinery does not enjoy the trust of the
From the secondary school students, who were approached to
explain "why do students cheat", 36 per cent thought it was done "just to pass
the exams and move ahead" while approximately 28 per cent reckoned it was "to
impress the teachers and parents".
On who was responsible for this
dishonesty, 35 per cent pointed towards the students themselves while almost the
same percentage said that the blame should go to the social
So, one can cautiously say that at least our students have
the guts to accept the simple, open drawbacks which they can themselves remove
A young, upbeat teacher who believes in mustering support
for a good cause from the grass-roots level, emphatically said that the parents
and teachers were chiefly to be blamed for a learner inclining towards unfair
means in exams. Instead of criticising the government's role, he insisted,
guardians and teachers, if they try and come close to the students, could mould
them into honest souls, provided they (the parents and teachers) play their
respective roles honestly and judiciously.
Nevertheless, the part to be
played by the government in curbing malpractice during assessments, particularly
core, cannot be denied.
And it was very earnestly and clearly underlined
by Mr Azmat Ali Baig, a veteran teacher, who slammed the education system
(particularly referring to local boards) and the authorities concerned for the
rampaging wave of forbidden methods used during exams.
Mr Baig, who
picked students' evasion from hard work as the main reason for cheating,
stressed the need for seriousness by the government authorities concerned to
eradicate this form of educational corruption.
In sharp contrast, a
mother of two pointed out towards the parents as the chief element in the making
or breaking of their children, exams or no exams.
The mother, whose
daughter attained an appreciable 88 per cent at this year's BSEK exams, also
noticed that the reasons and frequency of cheating in our society differ in the
case of boys and girls. The company, she thought that boys keep outside their
homes, can take them towards all kind of wrongdoings.
solutions? There can never be overnight changes in a big, heterogeneous society,
But yes, small yet highly significant steps like adults
working on their social behaviour, school authorities managing exams fairly,
government education institutions and law-enforcement bodies coming out of that
hidden clout obstructing the way to a permanently just education system,
teachers setting examples of honesty for their pupils, plus parents changing
their preferences - from demanding high grades from their children - to seeking
intellect and morality for them, can bring an unprecedented revolution in the
education system of Pakistan. In order to do that, everybody will have to
contribute one way or the other.
We should never forget that we owe a lot
to this country. So let us start our mission from education. Let us help and
guide our youngsters learn with honesty and dignity.
By S.M. Ibrahim Farooqi (Dawn)