The cost of cribbing

2014-04-05

Ekantipur

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Tis my opinion every man cheats in his own way,” said the 17th century English Playwright Susannah Centlivre, “and he is only honest who is not discovered.” The context which promoted Centlivre to pass such an uninspiring comment on human beings is not entirely clear, but it would certainly fit many participants involved in the university exam system in Nepal. The prestigious Japanese university system recently came under a cloud of suspicion when entrance exam questions to one of the country’s most esteemed higher education establishments, Kyoto University, appeared live on a website, even as the exams were taking place. Apparently, some prospective students were using their cell phones to search for answers to difficult mathematics and English questions online. This trend of digital copying is already being witnessed in Nepal, particularly among tech-savvy young students.

The exam rooms of the biggest centre for higher education in the country, Tribhuvan University, which provides education to around 300,000 students from across Nepal every year, are a sight to behold. Cheating is rampant—and brazen. Back in July, students of Siraha-based Surya Narayan, Satya Narayan Marwaita Multiple Campus  halted the M.Ed second year examination demanding that they be allowed to take their textbooks into the examination hall. Many students can be seen freely copying from the answer sheets of other students. Guide books stuffed inside shirts and socks are whisked out in the middle of exams. On the rare occasion when the invigilator threatens students with punitive measures, he gets a mouthful back, and is often threatened with ‘action’ once he gets out of the classroom. As a result, many regular invigilators now turn a blind eye to students’ shenanigans inside the examination hall.

During last year’s SLC exams, question papers were available minutes after the exams began to eager parents outside the exam halls, who would then pass on readymade answers to their wards. Sadly, this does not even elicit shock in a country where certificates are often considered more valuable than knowledge gained through rigorous studies. Neither is it surprising that graduates from Nepal are often found wanting in basic reading and writing skills and in even the basic understanding of their subjects. On a larger scale, the unabashed cheating in exams may also be seen as a reflection of the attitude of a large section of Nepali society which is habituated to taking short-cuts.

This is the reason why pedestrians don’t bother to take the overhead bridge, choosing instead to scamper across busy intersections. The reason drivers opt to clear driving tests through bribery, rather than spending valuable hours perfecting their driving skills. If the recent report of Transparency International is any guide, Nepal has some of the most corrupt politicians and bureaucrats in the world. Would it be farfetched to assume that their lack of accountability and scrupulousness is at least partly attributable to the substandard education system they were once a part of?

(Source: The Kathmandu Post)