Paper planes, parents help Indian pupils outsmart state exams

Fri Mar 20, 2015 6:16am EDT
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PATNA, India (Reuters) - Images of Indian students blatantly cheating on school-leaving examinations under the noses of supervisors have gone viral, inviting ridicule on Twitter and exposing flaws in the much-maligned education system of an impoverished eastern state.

On Thursday, the Hindustan Times published a photo of dozens of men clambering up the wall of a four-floor test center in Bihar state, perched on window ledges as they folded answer sheets into paper planes flown into classrooms.

"Should we shoot them?" asked Prashant Kumar Shahi, Bihar's education minister, addressing a news conference after television news channels aired the incriminating photo and raked up the scandal.

"On average, four or five persons are helping each student use unfair means," Shahi said, adding it was impossible to curb cheating if parents encouraged their children.

Exams held by the Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) are viewed as make-or-break tests that could transform the lives of millions growing up in poverty.

Copying is rampant during state-run standardized tests and invigilators look the other way when pupils consult peers via WhatsApp messages on phones or jot down answers from notes smuggled into classrooms.

More than 1.4 million students are taking the tests this week, crammed into 1,217 examination centers in Bihar.

Supervisors stationed at notorious test centers vie for the postings, enticed by the prospect of bribes from parents eager to have their wards scrape through.

Cheating has been on the rise since the state government offered cash rewards of 10,000 rupees ($160) to lower-caste students who were able to answer about half the questions on their tests.   Continued...