On April 10 a TV channel showed candidates cheating in matriculation examinations throughout Sindh. It was most unfortunate. Teenagers should be blamed for not preparing for examinations and taking a shortcut by using unfair means to qualify. But the real onus lies with the invigilation staff. Instead of exercising strict control over candidates, they became a party to this heinous crime. When candidates cheat, it is not very difficult for examiners to figure this out. Therefore, he should examine papers more critically and fail candidates involved in cheating. I have an idea which has been adopted by some of our institutions which is multiple choice questions from matriculation. In this case the candidates will have to apply their mind to tick the right answer. If the candidate is not prepared, he will go for a fluke and will fail. In this system, it is race against time.

In Inter-Services Selection Board tests, a candidate has 45 questions to be answered in 15 minutes or 90 questions in 30 minutes. In this system, the candidate cannot take eyes off his answer sheet leave alone whisper or getting help from anyone. In the United States candidates of the medical licensing examination, popularly known as USMLE, are given 400 MCQs to be done in 12 hours. The beauty of this system of examination is that a different set of MCQs is given to every candidate. So, there is no chance of consultation or whispering. It is a foolproof method which eliminates the chances of cheating. Unfortunately, we have an obsolete system of examination. Five questions out of eight have to be attempted. Guess papers with suggested answers can be found in the market. Whenever the examination starts, one can hear the sound of tearing of books/guess papers in the examination halls.

Demotivated teachers and invigilators know about this, but usually enjoy refreshments provided by the examination centre mafias. We are producing graduates who cannot compete in the job market. They might earn a BCom/BA degree by using unfair means but cannot write a simple application. They are good for nothing and are a burden on society. The need of the hour is that we should use our energies to stem the rot. Parents should play their role and motivate their children to work hard and prepare for examinations. Teachers should ensure that they teach students with a missionary zeal. They should try to set an example by imparting lessons painstakingly and take pride in themselves if their students excel in examinations. The controller of examinations should not allow cheating in examinations. By allowing a criminal activity in the examination hall he automatically becomes an accomplice. In good old days whenever a candidate was caught cheating, he used to be rusticated for two/three years.

But now values have changed. PhD degrees are being doled out to non-deserving persons. The Balochistan chief minister says that ‘a degree is a degree whether it is original or fake.’ When once asked how much educated men were superior to uneducated, Aristotle said: “As much as the living are to the dead.”

SAFIR A. SIDDIQUI,

Karachi, May 2.