Exam leak needs scrutiny

Updated: 2012-03-19 08:11

(China Daily)

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It is far more serious than cheating by individuals, that the answers to the English national entrance examination for postgraduate students were sent to a wide range of examinees through text messages just before they were due to sit the exam in January.

The leaking of the answers has brought shame on the Ministry of Education and is an affront to the country's education system.

The ministry, which is still being haunted by the scandal, has required local education departments and institutions of higher learning to try and block the cheats from getting through by carefully checking their English capability in re-exams and interviews.

It is yet to know how the exam answers were divulged since such documents are usually handled as highly confidential and escorted by armed police to where the exams take place and no one is supposed to open them before the exam.

The ministry has revealed that two culprits have already been arrested, but it has refused to disclose the weak link in the chain saying the investigation is still under way.

The investigation must be thorough and get to the real root of the crime and establish if bribes played a role in lubricating the channels for the exam answers to be obtained.

We hope that the ministry, with the aid of the police, will leave no stone unturned in its efforts to unravel every detail of the story and apprehend all those involved.

It is important not just because those who have committed such a crime should be brought to justice, but also because it is unfair to those who have worked hard to prepare for the exams, but have been squeezed out by those who illegally cut corners. There will be some who had the potential to be good scholars or achieve breakthroughs in a particular field but are likely to miss the opportunity of fulfilling their potential because of a few bad apples.

The uncovering of the whole story will help to identify the loopholes that must be plugged to prevent this from happening again.

A renowned scholar questioned the education minister about the matter at the just concluded session of the Chinese Political Consultative Conference last week, and a paper has published an investigative report about it. So public pressure should certainly provide enough incentive for the ministry to do a thorough and proper investigation to ensure that such a serious national exam retains its dignity and authenticity.

(China Daily 03/19/2012 page8)