China steps up crack down on hi-tech exam cheats
No, you may not take that tablet into the exam hall...
The Chinese ministry of education has been forced to update its rules prohibiting cheating in college entrance exams to take account of the increasingly ingenious hi-tech methods used by desperate students and their parents to succeed in the hugely important exams.
State-run news agency Xinhua said the government made 15 additional points on its lengthy anti-cheating rule list to deal with “new circumstances, problems, technology and rampant mass cheating".
The updates explicitly ban students from taking in any equipment “capable of sending or receiving signals”, whereas previously it only forbade mobile phones, the report said.
To enforce the rules, some local exam centres have been forced to install airport-style metal detectors, video surveillance equipment and signal blocking technologies, and Public Security Bureau officials have even been called in to make sure everything is done by the book.
The annual National College Entrance Examination (NCEE), or gaokao, is the largest standardised test of its kind in the world and can be a life-changing event for some students, persuading the more morally ambiguous ones to invest in technology to gain an unfair advantage.
As a result, the crackdown on exam cheats is an annual affair these days, with state-run media dutifully reporting any arrests of those caught selling technology which could help students, such as matchstick-thin wireless earphones.
According to a Xinhua report last year, even teachers were caught selling the devices in 2009 in the city of Songyuan.
The clampdown seems to be having the desired effect, however, with the news agency reporting an overall drop in the number of cheating violations for five consecutive years. ®
Whatever happened to the good old fashioned method of writing on your wrist, under your watch?
Kids these days. Pheh.
It is endemic in education in China at all levels
Though I am not Chinese, I live and work in China, teaching in various universities. This report does not surprise me, though the extent of cheating in China is far more extensive than one might guess at first. In my classes and exams, cheating is done routinely, so much so that my Chinese academic colleagues often have given up trying to deal with it. If cheating is found out, and the students ejected from the examination room (as I have done), the reaction is often outrage and an explanation that I am not used to the way things are done in China: universities apparently do not take cheating as a serious issue.
Even though the courses I teach are overseen by a non-Chinese educational body, if I pointed out how much cheating is done, they would react appropriately, and the courses would be withdrawn, which leads to many being reluctant to lose their livelihood of teaching because of this (even I have this pressure on me, so I have tried to use softly-softly approaches, but being too outspoken against it leads to universities generally being unwilling to employ you at all)
Many of the students I teach hope to go to the UK and USA to study further. I have tried to tell them that, within 5 minutes of beginning an exam, almost all of them would have already been failed in the UK and USA because they talk openly with each other, go out dialing numbers on their phones (they are not banned in universities), and, if you are attempting to supervise an exam on a course you have taught, they openly ask you how to answer a question, and say to each other in Chinese how you are a bad teacher of you refuse to help them.
For these reasons, I am deeply sceptical of all results on applications tyo study in the UK now, and even think that the so-called highest educational achievements in the world claimed to be coming from China cannot be believed because the endemic nature of cheating in school exams means that I cannot be sure the results were achieved without cheating (which the report agrees can be very sophisticated and subtle).
Why has this come about? It is the end-result of enormous pressure being put on students from parents, and, more importantly, from teachers who will be fired if their performance (the number of students who get very high scores in exams) drops below a certain level. In essence, cheating has become a means by which students can cope and survive an extremely abusive system that they are forced to go through. That means, even when those pressures are removed somewhat, as at university level, the cheating idea is so ingrained they just do it as normal behaviour.
Obviously, for all the above reasons (I have Chinese family by marriage I am responsible for in China), I am being anonymous here.
Re: It is endemic in education in China at all levels
Thanks for that post, Anon - a very personal insight into what must be a difficult situation for you, having to in effect condone methods that will only lead to degradation of the student's themselves - and all because the system is so focused on numbers and statistics. Speak up and you'll be replaced by someone who doesn't care: self-reinforcement of the system. Sad to say, it looks like the rest of the world is travelling on the same path and not that far behind.