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One in four teenagers think it quite acceptable to use dodging ways to get by in their exams. It is heartbreaking that cheating has become an ever present issue in our educational institutions nowadays. It is so difficult to judge the ability of the students as the examiner is not sure whether the student has passed the exams by learning or used illegal means to get good grades.

The trend of cheating has increased thanks to our flawed examination system. Some books are selected in our obsolete syllabus and the questions in the exams are asked from those books only. As a result many students are unaware of the actual purpose of these books. They only study a few selected portions from them as they believe that education means to get good degrees and excellent jobs.

Students use technically unauthorised material and other unfair means to gain advantage in examinations. Pre-planned cheating also takes place in most examination centres. Students are provided open book guides, solved papers and other kinds of aid from the authorities.

They also use clever techniques such as scribbling with a pencil on the desk, on their fingernails and make strange markings on pieces of paper to make keys for important questions. They also use mobile phones for this purpose.

According to the available facts obtained from the Board of Secondary Education in Karachi, 75 to 98 per cent of college students adopt different ways of cheating. In a government boys’ secondary school in Sharfabad, 32 students were caught using unfair means in examination halls. The Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Sukkur, reported 400 cases of cheating. Some 178 to 300 candidates were involved in cheating in Khairpur, Ghotki, Hyderabad and other cities of Sindh.

The menace of cheating is increasing day by day since no strict action has ever been taken against the culprits. The cheaters threaten the teachers who try to stop them from cheating on the spot. Beating and using vulgar language has also been reported. A teacher said that when once he spotted a candidate cheating in his exams, he weighed his options of what would happen if he took any action or if he kept silent. When he reported the cheating incident to the superintendent of the examination centre, he turned a deaf ear while refusing to take any action.

Jaffar, who runs a bookshop in Sukkur says that 90 per cent of students buy guidebooks to solve papers, 40 per cent of boys and 10 per cent of girls purchase these books some 10 days ahead of the exams or one day before the exams with most of the sales taking place just one hour before the exams in order to make preparations for cheating.

A frustrated student said no matter how they completed their education, at least they get good degrees and good jobs. Many lower and middle class parents themselves provide cheating material to their children. Due to pressures from the family and severe economic crisis in their homes, the children feel forced to carry out evil acts solely for getting good grades. Children of highly-educated and affluent families also cheat as they don’t want to be bothered with studying hard … cheating is seen as a shortcut to getting good ranks.

It is the responsibility of the parents, teachers and society in general to boost the self-confidence of students and make them realise the importance of gaining quality education. A morally, dedicated and enthusiastic student would not resort to evil means in order to pass the exams but try to understand the true meaning of the book, aim to gain knowledge and learn general awareness to lead a useful life.

Lastly, cheating in the examinations can be controlled through strict action. The superintendent of the examination centre should vigilantly observe suspicious students. If any unauthorised material is found, the culprits should be immediately kicked out of the centre so that they miss the entire year. Fines and a range of other penalties should be imposed. Suspension from the school or college will also help in reducing the rate of cheating. Law enforcing agencies must deploy their personnel at the centres to keep a strict eye on the negative activities taking place there.

It has also been suggested that the boards should immediately change the examination style by introducing concept-based questions. The questions must be set in a manner that puzzle even an intelligent student, hence involving greater concentration. This change in examination pattern will play a vital role in overcoming the problem of cheating, making the examination system higher in quality.

Thus a clean and fair examination system will arouse interest in the students regarding their subject to study with concentration and gain knowledge and ensure a secure future. The students this way will not get involved in anti-social activities which merely destroy their future, lower their self-esteem and deteriorate their behaviour and character.