Cheating, what else? [Archives:2008/1165/Community]

June 19 2008

By: Lamis Abdulkarim Shuga'a
[email protected]

Since the usual examinations are being held these days in both schools and universities, I think it would be good if a little light were shed on some of the “special strategies” typically, if not always, taking a much-appreciated place there.

One of the most prevalent strategies is cheating, which has become a widespread phenomenon nowadays. This ugly habit is increasing daily in both rural and urban areas alike. What's more, it's become even more dangerous in urban districts.

In addition to quarreling, several different types of “weapons” are employed in cheating during examinations, particularly on general high school exams.

Nearly everyone knows at least several different methods of cheating. The first method is where students themselves can prepare to cheat either by handwriting “cheat sheets” themselves or copying ones using professional “scribes.”

Cheating also may be done via hidden mobile telephones, contacting others outside the school. It also can take the form of a “cooperative process” among classmates during the exam itself.

A more “respectful” or “refined” way of cheating is by making a prior agreement with school principals themselves, who, of course, represent students, and the exam proctors, who are to “carefully observe” everything related to the exams. In this case, the money typically collected from the students – or “victims” – at the beginning of the exam is split evenly between these two parties in charge.

However, in reality, not all school principals and exam proctors are alike, just as not all of a hand's fingers are alike – it's only those with dead consciences!

There's a new form of cheating, which I believe is the strangest method currently in use, as it's actually done by parents themselves, who are supposed to be the ideal role models for their children! This method occurs at numerous rural schools whose “strict rules” are in vain.

In such schools, supposedly “educated” male and female teachers – who also happen to be parents of students attending the same school – go from one class to another to observe their children. Not being satisfied with simply observing them, they end up answering most, if not all, of their children's exam questions!

Other relatives and neighbors also are allowed to wait near schools to assist those students who throw their exam questions on pieces of paper from the school windows.

Thus, if these “educated” fathers or mothers take their children's exams for them, what do they expect their children to be or do in the future?! How else will they – both the parents and their children – behave?

I won't say that this is the responsibility of school principals, exam proctors or even the Yemeni government itself. No, in order to deal seriously with this problem, we must return to the basic building block of any society – the family. Children should be raised with Islamic instruction; this is parents' real responsibility. As the prophet Mohammed (pbuh) stated, “He who cheats us is not one of us.”

Indeed, students face many different obstacles and difficulties during the learning process that lead them to cheat, but parents still can cure – if not all, then at least most of them.

Another noticeable fact is that cheating is less at universities than in other schools, which can be attributed to the strict rules announced there. For example, if a cheater misses three subjects, he or she isn't allowed to be tested on them.

Thus, this phenomenon is reduced at universities due to the seriousness of its rules, but if students have the chance, of course, cheating will occur. However, if there were a real fear of God, there would be no cheating – neither in education nor in any aspect of life.

The outcome of this common bad practice appeared in a recent study, which found that Yemen is a very poor nation regarding education, as compared to other Arab countries. The findings showed that different reasons are causing this problem, one of which is widespread cheating.

In conclusion, I really do dream about Yemeni schools without cheating because as a village teacher myself, I suffer due to this bad phenomenon and its numerous disadvantages.

Lamis Abdulkarim Ahmed Shuga'a is an English teacher from Taiz currently pursuing her master's degree at Taiz University's English Department, Language Center.