“Pakistanis are known for taking shortcuts in life” – True or false?

Published: April 12, 2015
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This issue is bigger than just an education-related problem – this issue questions the very existence of our social fabric. PHOTO: PPI

On April 8, 2015, it was reported that blatant acts of cheating were underway during the yearly SSC-I and II examinations in four districts of the upper Sindh. The examinations were being conducted under Secondary Education, Sukkur (BISE) and the Board of Intermediate, Sindh.

It was reported to The Express Tribune that about 210 centres had been placed for the examinations in all the four districts. Out of these 210, 174 had been assigned for male candidates while 36 for female candidates. The report suggested that 27 teams of invigilators confirmed 311 students who had cheated in various examination points while five cases of impersonation were also caught.

This is just one of the many incidents that take place each year in Pakistan. Undoubtedly, no appropriate methods have been established to curb this increasingly deplorable affair. While police protection is given outside each centre, yet hoards of students bribe these policemen and get away with cheating. The bribery doesn’t only end with the policemen outside – many students bribe invigilators as well. What’s worse is that just a few steps away from these centres, there are photocopy shops that hand out answers, guess-papers and other resourceful materials.

The flip side of this awfully rusted and malicious coin is that there are students who study day in and day out to get grades that would be the foundation of their future. These students either don’t have the means to pay off bribes or are plainly ethical. But they eventually suffer because other students, who haven’t studied a thing, get away with better grades because of the bribes they have given and the cheating they perform.

The Ministry of Education is entirely responsible for the hordes of cheating instances that we get to hear about yearly. Also, it shows that these 17 to 18-year-old students who sit for these examinations, who also happen to be the future of our country, are completely devoid of ethics. Perhaps, when they say that “Pakistanis are known for taking shortcuts in life” the statement stands true.

However, I’ll come back to the Ministry of Education and those higher souls sitting in Islamabad running the system. It is your responsibility to not only ensure a curriculum that is at par with international standards but also to implement measures to curb such situations. When I read the report, I was appalled. For whatever reason, the first thought that came to my mind was my examination centre setup by the British Council for my O’ and A’ level examinations.

Although there have been cases of cheating there also, yet it is to the minimal. So much so, that the person caught cheating is defamed in a way that nearly everyone finds out about him or her. We could never even think of employing any unfair means to pass our papers. In 2012, the Pakistan Studies and Islamiat O’ level papers were leaked. The examinations were cancelled by the British Council and students had to sit through the retake of the exams in the next session.

So the question arises that if British Council examinations are checked and invigilated thoroughly, why can’t the same be applied to Pakistan-based examinations? How long is the Ministry of Education going to keep their eyes wide shut and not curb these cheating instances? When will they put an end to down grading students who seek for equivalence after appearing in their O’ and A’ level exams?

Even if I try to gather a ratio between the intermediate board cheating cases and that of international exams given by British Council, I will probably not be able to. Whatever the reason maybe, one factor needs to be seriously considered: Such harrowing instances where children in their most vulnerable ages are bending towards compromising their ethics and morals could have further dire problems to our society at large in the coming future.

These children are our future, and they are already compromising on their principles and code of conducts. Instead of our society improving, if these issues aren’t tackled with in the most appropriate ways, it would not be too far-fetched to think the worse. This issue is bigger than just an education-related problem – this issue questions the very existence of our social fabric. And I, for one, am very concerned about its repercussions.

Zara Hafeez

Zara Hafeez

A digital marketer, writer, a history buff, volunteer for humanitarian causes for The James Caan Foundation, UNICEF Promise for Children, among others and a tea-aholic. She tweets as @zara_hafeez (twitter.com/zara_hafeez)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • S.Sajid

    The issues you highlighted are the superficial ones, you won’t even imagine the extent to what things happen behind the doors and in the offices, I come from an intermediate board background, and have witnessed things which literally tore my heart. While we worked day in and day out for a promising future, some students would just show up at the end of academic year or those in failed miserably in each and every test, were eventually blessed with A1 percentages.
    It was very upsettning at that time,but gradually I realised that at the end of the day, only merit prevails in every situations while bribing, cheating, etc are short lived luxuries that will destroy your life.
    Thanks for your nice article.Recommend

  • just_someone

    Absolutely… our creativity has always been channeled into negative means.
    I always wonder the amazing things we can achieve if we put our efforts towards positive thingsRecommend

  • Aamir – Toronto

    I totally disagree !!!Recommend

  • janeman

    I will suggest with this ongoing cheating issue there should be open book exams but harder to cheat. Only those students can find answers who have studied. Multiple choice question papers are not bad suggestion either. Recommend

  • Sadaf Furqan

    I am currently running exam centre of 300 boys. Anyone can visit any time to see how a centre is managed. You can actually feel pin drop silence here…. Recommend

  • Fahim

    I worked in a chemical plant and I saw poisonous chemicals released into rivers and everyone from chief engineer down thinking how clever they were. So yes we are a nation of short cutters.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    cheating is the most rampant thing in Pakistan. you can easily get everything you need to pass the exam in flying colours for about 10 thousand. however if you live in a posh area you may be charged more, so the first rule is to show up wearing something which has seen better days.
    Moreover there are centers where cheating is so rampant that books and other “materials” are supplied by the guys manning the centre.Recommend

  • Babu1961

    This is the natural outcome of our sense of uncertainty about any future. We plan for the very short term. We grab what ever we can now, because tomorrow there might be nothing to have.
    We have created an aimless and a very unjust society. We are a failed people.Recommend

  • Agrippa – The Skeptic

    That is why you live in TorontoRecommend

  • anon0912

    I think the real question isn’t whether we take shortcuts or not….in life there is no such thing as shortcuts.I skimmed through the article and you are addressing the wrong issue here.The fact is public education sector here isn’t up to standards of a developing country.You know what kinda people get hired as teachers here…the ones who cant get a job anywhere else.The old saying those who cant do…teach applies.When a persons basic foundation in studies is flawed…you really expect them to learn complicated concepts in English?Even the ones who do study hard and get good grades apply the rote learning method.What we need is a stable government focusing on this issue…with proper certified teachers who engage with the students and make learning fun in a environment where they are able to thrive….as i said there are no shortcuts in life.Recommend

  • Qasim Haider

    Dear cie I Studied very hard to get A in Islamiat Pakistan studies and urdu first language but got Bs in these subjects in cie olevel may june 2015 exams even though my paper was right.when marking scheme arrive everything was I written on these papers were right but THE major problem is my classmates students who didn’t study a thing got As and the reason for getting As is cheating . I feel extremely sad I Studied day and night got b and those who didn’t study a thing get As. In examination room I saw many students were cheating and British council examiners did nothing.Recommend