Intermediate exams: My story of the invigilator who let us cheat
The credibility of the Pakistani education system is often under question. Religiously, every year various television channels air reports showing images and videos of students blatantly and fearlessly cheating in supposedly 'prestigious' board examinations. However, what worries me is that nothing comes out of it - the same practice occurs the next year too and then the year after.
I am currently taking my HSSC-II exams under the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (FBISE). Although the FBISE board is considered to be better than other local boards, I recently experienced something that left me speechless.
The exam centre allocated to me was a Federal Government (FG) school in Rawalpindi. As I sat in the examination hall amidst many nervous students, the invigilator for the day walked in. She was young - probably in her thirties. Upon arriving, she started shuffling around, looking for any possible cheating material that the students could have smuggled inside, and after she was done, she made a little speech.
“Beta, I want discipline in here. If you cooperate with me, I’ll do the same with you. You may discuss or help your friends, but I don’t want any disturbance - and by disturbance I mean noise, of course.”
And then came the emotional blackmail bit,
“Your behaviour today will reflect your institute. You don’t want me to think that you come from a bad school, do you? Let’s all just work together - mutual understanding!”
The students were ecstatic. They showered her with praises, and well, why wouldn't they?
During the exam, she volunteered to let the students know before the head invigilator entered, so they could stop their discussion and then later resume when he left.
Before I proceed, in my defence, I have never cheated in my life; I didn't then, and I won’t ever! To me, cheating is unfair. It is like taking credit for someone else’s work that you don’t rightfully deserve. I also believe that it hinders learning.
However, students here have become immune to cheating. They think of it as part and parcel of the education system and they do not feel any guilt in indulging in the practice - they consider this to be ‘team work’ or simply helping each other out. They also label other class fellows as ‘nerds’ or ‘losers’ if they insist on covering their exam papers or pretend to turn deaf when they are asked for help.
So, has cheating become socially acceptable?
What is interesting to note here is that teachers and parents, who are meant to guide students and encourage learning, are now completely ignoring their job. By turning a blind eye to this unethical and immoral behaviour, they encourage the practice of cheating.
For instance, in my case, if an invigilator openly allows ‘discussion’ to take place during an exam, can you blame the students for continuing to cheat? Why wouldn't they use this opportunity to ace an exam without even studying for it?
If this encouragement of cheating continues, it will not be surprising if we produce inept engineers, doctors and architects in the future. Fairness in exams is imperative to the future of this country. These grades are not a one-off thing. They bear the fate of Pakistan's tomorrow, which may be encompassed by darkness if this trend does not stop here.