Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Fairness of Cheating

Malcolm Moore in The Telegraph reported on protests at a high school in China's Hubei province. They were in reaction to numerous attempts at cheating being foiled by watchful eyes during the administration of the gaokao, China's university entrance exam. The protests were especially remarkable since many people were upset not about the students cheating but instead about the students not being allowed to cheat:
When students at the No. 3 high school in Zhongxiang arrived to sit their exams earlier this month, they were dismayed to find they would be supervised not by their own teachers, but by 54 external invigilators randomly drafted in from different schools across the county...

For the students, and for their assembled parents waiting outside the school gates to pick them up afterwards, the new rules were an infringement too far. As soon as the exams finished, a mob swarmed into the school in protest...

By late afternoon, the invigilators were trapped in a set of school offices, as groups of students pelted the windows with rocks. Outside, an angry mob of more than 2,000 people had gathered to vent its rage, smashing cars and chanting: "We want fairness. There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat."
Roll that last quote over in your mind for a bit and read the full story here.

Although the reaction offers ample opportunity for commentary about a variety of issues in China, high school cheating in itself is not unique to China, and some remarkable attempts occur elsewhere. For example, Angelique Chrisafis in The Guardian reported on a recent case in France where a woman posed as her daughter for an English exam. As in Zhongxiang, the cheating was exposed. But the reaction was different:
An invigilator who wandered up the rows of desks glancing at the candidates' ID cards noticed the imposter straight away, having seen the daughter sitting a philosophy exam two days before. She notified the head of the exam centre but, not wishing to disturb the other students, did not evict the mother straight away.

Only after she had been writing her exam paper for two hours did plain-clothes police arrive and wait outside the exam hall.

An invigilator gently asked the woman to leave. "Thankfully, she left with no difficulties," a lycée representative told Le Parisien.
The woman was taken to a police station, but I can't find any word on whether she or her daughter received any punishment. Hopefully the situation was resolved fairly.

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