--The Asahi Shimbun, March 1
EDITORIAL: High-tech cheating in entrance exams

Cheating has been an unfortunate fixture in the history of examinations. Still, the apparent exam misconduct committed during recent university entrance examinations is surprising. Should we say that it had been expected and that it took place at last?

Questions from Kyoto University's math and English exams were posted on Yahoo's Chiebukuro (knowledge bag), an Internet bulletin board, from mobile phones while the exams were in progress. Some of the questions posted received responses from other members of the website before the exams finished.

Similarly, questions from Waseda, Rikkyo and Doshisha universities and the answers to them were posted on the bulletin board. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has asked the four universities to submit reports on what happened.

Unsurprisingly, Kyoto University criticized the cheating as "a criminal act that shakes the foundation of entrance examinations" and pledged to "deal strictly with anyone who has committed misconduct."

Students who took these exams are naturally exasperated.

There are many unanswered questions about the cheating. The first posting came just several minutes after the math exam started at Kyoto University. How was this possible in an exam hall where test proctors were walking around to keep watch on the behavior of candidates? Were there any accomplices outside the exam rooms? Was the cheating committed only for the purpose of passing the exams or for some other motives?

Kyoto University has filed a report with the police. The university says the cheating may constitute fraudulent interference with its duty because the cheating interfered with the conduct of the business of administrating entrance examinations. The four universities need to find out the facts about the cheating, including how it was actually done. Without accurate and detailed information about what was done, it is impossible to take effective preventive measures.

Yahoo Japan Corp., which operates the Chiebukuro bulletin board, should cooperate with the investigations.

The revelations have bewildered national universities scheduled to administer the second part of their entrance exams on March 12. They are clueless as to what steps they should take to prevent similar cheating with mobile phones.

For now, they should swiftly review and reconsider the way test proctors do their job.

The key question for the future is what to do with the cellphones test-takers bring into exam rooms.

Universities have different rules. Kyoto University instructed entrance exam candidates to turn off their mobile phones and keep them in their bags. Some universities tell students to turn off their mobiles, put them in their bags and place the bags in a place set up to keep their belongings at a corner of the exam hall.

In order to ensure complete prevention of this kind of high-tech cheating in exams, it is probably necessary to prohibit candidates from bringing cellphones and other electronic devices into exam rooms. Education minister Yoshiaki Takaki has suggested that such a step be considered.

But the strict enforcement of such a ban requires not just inspections of the candidates' belongings but also body search and the installation of metal detectors. These measures would cost a lot of money and manpower. The issue clearly demands a broad public debate.

In this highly networked society, people seeking the answers to questions can easily get them by posting the questions on Internet bulletin boards, instead of doing time-consuming research on their own. The answers may or may not be correct. But these lazy questioners tend to accept the posted answers without question.

This trend may be behind the exam misconduct with mobile phones.

The news should also prompt us to ponder the question of what kind of relationship should be built between the expanding universe of electronic information and man's intellectual activity.

by kiyoshimat | 2011-03-04 06:18 | 英字新聞

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