Cheating in school tests is an old Indian problem.
But the malpractice literally scaled new heights this week in the eastern state of Bihar when relatives of 10th-grade students climbed the wall of a school building and perched precariously from windows of classrooms as they handed cheat sheets to children writing the tests inside.
Photographs and videos showing parents, friends and others scaling the school wall — Spiderman-style — went viral in India on Thursday. Police officers standing nearby watched helplessly.
Family values, some called it on Twitter. It does take a village, another said
Videos also showed school inspectors slapping young girls as they pulled out cheat sheets from under their tables.
HAJIPUR, BIHAR: In Bihar towns like Hajipur and Nawada, entire families seem to be setting out for centres where the board examinations are being held.
And then, while students take the exam, their friends or family are clambering over school building walls to pass chits and assist them. None of them even attempt to conceal their actions. And this right under the nose of policemen posted at the centres.
Inspection authorities and policemen at the venues have been unable to prevent the open, large-scale cheating because of the sheer numbers of friends and parents involved in the wall-scaling.
Some observers alleged that policemen are accepting bribes from people wanting to get into the examination halls.
Authorities claim they have debarred about 500 students from taking exams, but that has not deterred others. Neither has the fact that Bihar has an anti-cheating law which includes provisions for lodging a First Information Report and even arresting offenders.
“Can the government alone conduct fair exams without the support of society and parents of students?” asks Bihar’s education minister PK Shahi.
These scenes are not new. Last year, more than 200 students were expelled after being caught cheating in the Class 12 board exam. More than a dozen parents who helped their children use unfair means were also arrested. But, 75 per cent of the 13 lakh students who appeared, passed the 10th boards exams.
Dara Singh Chauhan from Nawada had this justification for helping his child cheat: “These government teachers don’t teach anything in schools. Most of the times they are absent. That’s why we have to resort to such things to help our children.”