Choices to make: Is cheating ever okay?

My friend knew making one call could guarantee his nephew a good grade. But was it the right thing to do?

Saeed Rahman July 17, 2011
A friend spoke with me recently about a dilemma. His brother had gotten in touch and asked for a favour, or rather, had given him a directive. Do this or else…

The issue was that my friend’s nephew will soon be sitting the Intermediate exams. My friend’s brother wanted my friend to pull some strings and speak to the teacher who would be taking his viva in the sciences to allow his son to be evaluated ‘fairly’. Apparently, this is the ‘only’ way to get better marks.

According to my friend’s brother, regardless of their answers most students are given mediocre marks, unless the teacher has an extra incentive to allow a student to do better than the others. My friend asked his brother if it would not be better if the entire system was exposed, corrected and all students could be marked on merit. His brother agreed, but insisted that the system needed to be fixed only after his son gave his viva and received marks.

My friend called in other family members for advice and to see if they would agree to his view.

He was simply told that even though his heart, his values and his politics were in the right place, he needed to be more realistic and make sure that his nephew passed with flying colours.

Everyone reminded him that their nephew was planning on going to medical school, and that it all depended on that one life-changing call my friend could make.

My middle-class sensibilities were shocked.

I spluttered on about how I had never passed any of my exams with any phone calls to the ‘right’ people. I was reminded, however, that I had gone to private schools my entire life.
“Government schools operate in a very different way, it’s easy to say what you are saying if you have only been to private schools.”

My friend bemoaned the fact that if he did not follow his brother’s instructions, his sister-in-law would tell the entire family how her son’s dreams to become a doctor had been shattered by his own uncle.

We make ethical decisions almost every day of our lives.

We all have a choice to go with the system or to fight it.

My friend decided not to make the call.
Saeed Rahman A senior sub-editor for the Lahore pages of The Express Tribune.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.