China tries to stop high-tech exam cheats


AS MILLIONS of students put in some last-minute cramming ahead of the world’s biggest examination, China’s education ministry said police have detained 62 people for selling wireless headphones and two-way radios to cheat on the nationwide college entrance exam.

More than nine million high school students are to take the national college entrance examination or “gaokao” today and tomorrow in 310,000 exam halls across the country. The exam is a great leveller in China, a meritocratic system to make sure anyone who deserves it can get into college. There are about four examinees per college place and competition is intense.

Education is a highly competitive business in China and has been since the philosopher Confucius helped formulate the examination system for public service during the T’ang Dynasty between AD 618 and 907.

Since late April, police in Changchun, the capital city of the northeastern province of Jilin, have uncovered eight criminal rings selling electronic cheating devices, Liang Xiangdong, deputy head of the city’s public security bureau, told the Xinhua news agency.

All over the country, schools are preparing measures to stop the cheats. In Henan, watches cannot be taken into exam venues and erasers and rulers will be strictly inspected. Some exam halls will have metal detectors, mobile phone signal shielding devices and wireless earphone detectors.

In 2009 teachers in Jilin’s city of Songyuan were discovered selling wireless devices to students. A year later, seven examinees from Gansu’s county of Jingyuan were caught using high-tech devices during the exam.

Many of these students are only children who have an extra burden of expectation to bear. And rising affluence in the cities has merely added to the pressures.

One businessman in Chengdu, Liang Shi (44), is set to make his 15th attempt to pass the exams.

Outside the halls, parents can be seen stopping traffic or remonstrating with drivers using their horns, ensuring their offspring are not disturbed during the tests.