When it seems like your entire future is resting on the outcome of a single exam, pressure to perform can be enough to crush even the most dedicated of students. Sometimes, even smart kids crack under the weight of it and resort to cheating to get by. But while parents in the western world are adamantly against cheating on tests, parents in India are going to great heights to help their kids cheat. The viral story out of Bihar this week shows just how far these parents will go as they and other family members scale the walls of schools across the country to pass cheat sheets to students inside.
In the minds of these parents, the risk of possibly falling four stories down from a narrow ledge is a better choice than allowing their student to fail the exam. Competition for university enrollment is fierce in India and largely due to a crumbling school system, many students never even make it past their 10th and 12th grade exams. This isn’t just bad for them; it can also be devastating to the entire family who might not survive if the children can’t secure a decent income in the future. In the struggle to overcome this problem, cheating has become a rampant and culturally acceptable practice.
Although it’s still technically illegal in many Indian states, police are often powerless to do anything because they are vastly outnumbered outside the schools. It’s also speculated that many officers are being bribed to look the other way. They may even have their own students receiving cheats during the exams. When contacted about the incident, Bihar Education Minister PK Shahi told reporters, “Government can only hold fair examinations with the help of the parents, society and the children. This is a collective responsibility.” And collectively, citizens of India seem to have decided that cheating is a necessary evil. However, despite ineffective law enforcement, school officials have expelled over 1,000 students caught with smuggled notes in a desperate attempt to get the problem under control.