High-tech cheating still rampant at exams | Sunday Observer

High-tech cheating still rampant at exams

In reference to the recent incident reported at this year’s Ordinary Level examination where two students were caught by the supervisor for using mobile phones during the Examinations, Chairman, National Education Commission (NEC), Prof. Lakshman Jayathilake spoke to the Sunday Observer on how to prevent students from using the technology in a negative way. He said, though mobile phones are strictly banned at examination centres, students still take their mobiles with them.

“Students use mobile phones to store answers and communicate to get answers during exams. There are certain restricted areas where the use of mobile phones are banned in certain countries. Students use the mobile phones to copy as it is small and an easy device to keep in their palms. It is a punishable offence to take mobiles to examination halls, these students should be banned from sitting exams for a number of years. In order to prevent the occurrence of such issues, the students should be fully body checked which does not happen currently. This year it was reported that two students were also caught using finger code signs to communicate with each other. These students were severely warned. A private candidate sat the exam this year using a distorted NIC as well. Both, in universities and schools, students write in tiny scripts of paper and copy, hoping the supervisor cannot see them,” Prof. Jayathilake said.

Few negative ways

Student counsellor, and English teacher at the Bandaranayake Central College, Veyangoda, Lalani Rajapaksha said, when it comes to examination frauds, it is the sole responsibility of the supervision team of the particular exam hall. “The first thing we should emphasize to the students is that having higher grades are of no use without a knowledge in the particular subject. As teachers, we should help them to be honest and face reality. These incidents do not mean anything to technology. As long as the students are good in technology they use it for their benefits,” she said.

She said, there are a few negative ways of using technology but a lot of it is positive. “Some parents and teachers pressurize children to show off their colours through best results, especially, in tuition classes. The children are the victims of their mental satisfaction. As technology is developed now they copy using mobile phones. Exam oriented education is the worst experience in our education system. When educators and parents are not interested in enhancing their knowledge in technology we have to face such situations. Therefore, they should be smarter than the children,” Rajapaksha said.

The ICT instructor, Central Provincial ICT Education Centre, Gurudeniya, Champa Rathnayake spoke about what pressurizes students to copy to get through exams. She said, “Competition to achieve higher grades compels students to do dishonest things. My view is that schools should inculcate positive attitudes in using technology, which should be used as any other tool for learning. Children should be allowed to use and experiment technology from a very early age. This could prevent the negative use. Social media and devices must be allowed with proper limitations and guidance.

 Bad or negative examples they experience from the society may often cause them with the fear of their consequences. Unless positive attitudes are inculcated, gaining vast knowledge and high skills would be useless. Exam oriented, competitive education system in Sri Lanka should be changed in order to prevent or minimize cheating.”

According to the Vice Principal, Ladies College, Deepika Dassenaike, there are many reasons why some children feel compelled to cheat at exams; from grassroots level, the lack of strong values such as integrity to the more human issues of lack of self worth caused by parental pressure, competition, peer pressure, emphasis given to the need to have excellent Grades which are necessary to qualify to choose particular subjects for the A/L and eligibility for student leadership positions, are some of them. “A mobile phone is merely a tool among others, to cheat. In the short run, banning the use of mobile phones may help manage the issue, but it is vital that schools, parents and the community help to actively address the concerns.

As the saying goes, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, which I would qualify by saying that it takes a responsible village with high values to raise a child right,” she said.

“Both, teachers and parents should take an interest to prevent technological resources being misused by children,” says Shiroma Weerathunge, ICT teacher at President’s College, Embilipitiya. She says, technology is the best tool which helps in children’s education. “When they use the computer and mobile apps teachers have to ensure that the tools have educational elements as well.

Teachers should inculcate good habits and thoughts in students when they use such devices. Sometimes children keep using their favorite devices longer than necessary (like overnight) and neglect their regular studies.

“When such things happen they are not confident to face the exams, and resort to examination offence. So parents and teachers should advice them that it is important to earn good results with their own knowledge and not by using technology in negative ways.

Many parents want their children to get an ‘A’ pass in all. Due to this pressure, they do not think about the good and the bad, even when it comes to the law. So parents and teachers should advice children how misused technology could impact their future,” added Weerathunge.

According to W.H.A.B. Jayalath, ICT Teacher, Bandaranayake College, Gampaha the reasons for examination frauds is due to incorrect guidance and the competition built by the Sri Lankan education system. He said, 99.99 percent students try to pass the exams.

“The students do not want to learn instead they use technology to play games while teaching.

At exams, they use it for copying or to get the paper early through a tuition master. Some tuition masters conduct seminars after publishing posters saying, “Prashna Pathraya Pennuwa” (We give you a glimpse of the exam paper). After the exam they put up posters saying, “Api Kiuwa, Api Dunna” (We promised, we delivered). We have to urgently investigate into these matters. In the Western Province recently the last term test papers were published before the exams. Students trust these cheap ways of the tuition classes,” he said.

“When I was conducting my tuition classes early this December, some of my students asked me, “Sir can you give us a question paper of the O/L 2017.” I said “That is impossible as the paper cannot be out before the exam.”

Children ask such questions after seeing foolish posters outside tuition classes. According to the examination system in Sri Lanka, students do not want to learn instead, they want to pass the exam.

The government and the Ministry of Education should change this system as soon as possible,” Jayalath said. 

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