Wrong is Right?
“We Want Fairness. There Is No Fairness If You Do Not Let Us Cheat”
Beijing: What should have been a hushed scene of 800 Chinese students sitting their university entrance exams erupted into siege warfare after invigilators tried to stop them cheating.
The relatively small city of Zhongxiang in Hubei province has always performed suspiciously well in China’s tough ”gaokao” exams, winning a disproportionate number of places at the country’s elite universities.
Last year, the city was cautioned by the province’s education department after it discovered 99 identical papers in one subject.
This year, a pilot scheme was introduced to enforce the rules.
When students at the No.3 high school in Zhongxiang arrived to sit their exams this month, they were dismayed to find that they would be supervised by 54 randomly selected external invigilators.
The invigilators used metal detectors to relieve students of mobile phones and secret transmitters, some of them designed to look like pencil erasers.
A team of female invigilators was on hand to intimately search female examinees, the Southern Weekend newspaper reported.
Outside the school, officials patrolled to catch people transmitting answers to the examinees. At least two groups were caught trying to communicate with students from a hotel opposite the school.
For the students, and their parents waiting outside, the new rules went too far. As soon as the exams finished, a mob swarmed into the school in protest.
”I picked up my son at midday. He started crying. I asked him what was up and he said a teacher had frisked his body and taken his mobile phone from his underwear. I was furious and I asked him if he could identify the teacher,” one of the fathers said to police.
By late afternoon, the invigilators were trapped as students pelted the windows with rocks. Outside, more than 2000 people had gathered, smashing cars and chanting: ”We want fairness. There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat.”
The protesters claim cheating is endemic in China and that sitting the exams without help puts their children at a disadvantage.
Teachers took to the internet to call for help. ”We are trapped in the exam hall,” wrote Kang Yanhong, an invigilator, on a Chinese messaging service. ”Students are smashing things and trying to break in.”
An invigilator named Li Yong was punched in the nose by a father. Mr Li had confiscated a mobile phone from his son and then refused a bribe to return the handset. ”This supervisor affected [my son’s] performance, so I was angry,” the man, named Zhao, told police.
Hundreds of police cordoned off the school and the local government conceded that ”exam supervision had been too strict and some students did not take it well”.
In Paris, meanwhile, a 52-year-old woman faces prosecution after being caught trying to sit a baccalaureate English exam in place of her daughter. Dressed as a teenager, including Converse trainers and low-waisted skinny jeans, the woman made it into the exam hall at a Paris high school. But a supervisor soon realized the woman was an impostor and alerted the principal.
The woman now faces fraud charges. Her daughter could be banned from public exams for five years.