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Inside the world of cheating

  • Published at 12:17 pm August 8th, 2017
  • Last updated at 12:50 pm August 8th, 2017
Inside the world of cheating
The recurrence of examination malpractices is a matter of great concern. Its effects are disastrous for students, teachers, guardians, and educational institutions. Examination malpractice is defined as any dishonest or unlawful means employed by a student or candidate to obtain grades in the examination, or unlawful means designed by an academic personnel so that a candidate can be unfairly advantaged. Examination malpractices can be of three main categories: Pre-examination, during examination, and post-examination. Questions leaked  The non-stop question leak at different national exams in Bangladesh has been a serious scandal. People from every walk of life have expressed their deep concerns over the repeated question leak, which had been only getting worse for the last few years. Impersonation  It happens when an individual who is not registered as an exam candidate, sits for the exam for someone else. This involves students taking exams for a monetary reward, or a favour for a friend, brother, sister, or husband. External assistance  This involves providing unauthorised help to the candidates such as dictating answers by the invigilators, writing answers on the blackboard by the teachers, and supplying answers to the students in advance by the institution authority. Using phones and broadcasting answers are examples of external assistance. Tools to cheat  This is probably the most familiar form of examination malpractice. It is associated with taking unauthorised materials -- such as, notebooks, charts, and written answers -- into the examination hall. These are normally smuggled in candidates’ pants, shoes, and shirts. Copying  Producing answers by copying another candidate’s work with or without permission is a common form of examination malpractice in Bangladesh. Intimidation  It is evident that some candidates, especially those who have political identity, seek for support illegally. They physically threaten the examination officials such as supervisors, invigilators, and teachers working outside the examination room. Candidates, in broad daylight, brandish weapons in order to intimidate them. Post-examination  This incorporates altering marks deliberately with a view to inflate or deflate a candidate’s original mark. This malpractice is committed by examination officials or by the candidates in contact with the markers. Moreover, purchasing bogus certificates is another malpractice in Bangladesh. Bogus certificates should not be so easy to come by. Firstly, the stakes of national examinations are considerably high: Success in such examinations makes profound, immediate, and have long-term impacts on a candidate’s life. For instance, getting a job is often dependent upon passing an exam.
Rather than working hard, they tend to invest their time in planning the strategies they can apply to cheat in the examination
So, doing well in an exam seems as a “do or die” situation for candidates. Secondly, competition between schools triggers malpractices. Generally, schools’ reputations and promotions depend upon students’ success in public examinations. Consequently, school administrators and teachers are found to write answers on the blackboard for helping their students during the exams. Thirdly, some parents, though not all, blindly expect their children to enrol in courses such as engineering, medicine, accounting, and others. To fulfil such expectations, the parents look for and persuade someone who can, at all costs, help their children get the required grades. Recently, it was noted in media reports that some parents attempted to collect the leaked questions. Some other causes may be poor exam preparation, a fear of failure, pressure on students to pursue courses, a misguided ambition, and so on. Consequences  Examination malpractices have serious consequences. The succession of malpractice undermines the credibility of the entire exam system. It undermines not only the exam system but people’s trust in it, and makes the system questionable. When some pupils are unfairly advantaged within the system, others are likely to become de-motivated to work hard. Rather than working hard, they tend to invest their time in planning the strategies they can apply to cheat in the examination. In other words, learning, which is central to assessment, is affected. Students may have a temptation for collecting illicit question papers at their disposal instead of studying hard to pass exams. The qualification with the lack of proper learning would build a false foundation that contributes to job inefficiency. So, the purpose of education is at stake, because pupils are learning how to cheat in the exams rather than gaining knowledge. Bangladesh has already had an image crisis in terms of education quality, as it is exposed on the media (both print and electronic) that a huge number of students obtain GPA 5 in SSC and HSC examinations -- but they hardly know their subjects. They even fail to pass the English section in the university admission tests. In addition to this crisis, the current acceleration of examination malpractices has compounded the poorer-quality education compared to the global standard of education. If these situations continue, the pupils would also grow up to believe this malpractice to be a way of academic exercise. Furthermore, there is a chance of this perception being carried into their professional lives. But, having been educated, they are supposed to be honest, judicious, polite, and respectful to others. The resolution People from all walks of life need to embark upon a wider campaign against examination malpractices. The government should introduce a continuous assessment system at all levels of learning along national exams. This will lessen the stake of national exams, and emphasise on learning rather than only looking forward to gaining certificates and grades through the final exams. Educational institutions should organise seminars, roundtable discussions, and workshops focusing on the bad effects of examination malpractice. They should also provide proper counselling services for helping students acquire good study habits. Exam managing committees should feel they have an ethical obligation to the nation. These obligations are to maintain integrity, honesty, fairness, and transparency in examinations. Md Shidur Rahman is a doctorate researcher at School of Social Sciences, Education, and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast, UK.  
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