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Parents questioned over college entrance exam scandal

Shanghai Daily, June 19, 2014 Adjust font size:

Police are questioning the parents of two students and exam supervisors alleged to be involved in a college entrance exam scandal in central China's Henan Province, local authorities said yesterday.

The announcement follows a China Central Television investigation that claimed university students were being paid to take the exam for the children of rich and powerful families in Henan.

CCTV said a well-organized group was recruiting the students and bribing education officials and exam supervisors to turn a blind eye to cheating.

Recruitment ads were written on toilet walls at several universities in neighboring Hubei Province, CCTV said.

Nearly 130 college students had been paid by applicants' families to sit this year's exam, according to an investigation by Henan education authorities.

The police investigation also covers Hubei.

The scandal sparked fresh concerns about flaws in the exam system, which involved more than nine million students on June 7 and 8, despite measures to prevent cheating, such as fingerprint machines.

"I was very surprised at the CCTV report. I did not think someone could cheat under such strict measures," said Bai Shiping, principal of Qixian County No. 2 High School, one exam venue where the cheating is said to have taken place.

The examination, or gaokao, is seen as the most important opportunity for students to ensure their future and some poor performing students resort to cheating as a result.

"High-tech means, such as fingerprint machines, are increasingly used before sitting the exam but if people turn a blind eye to them, then what is their use?" said Bai.

"The key is staff administration. The chain of cheating has corruption behind it."

Prior to this year's gaokao, police in Jilin, Jiangsu, Shandong and Hubei provinces busted a number of gangs accused of organizing cheating methods, such as manufacturing and selling wireless devices.

Last Thursday, a township government official surnamed Zhang and his brother-in-law in Liaoning Province were given suspended jail terms of 18 months and one year.

Zhang had been selling electronic cheating devices to students during last year's gaokao.

Education regulations state that students who cheat will be stripped of their enrollment qualification for a period ranging from one to three years.

College students who sit exams for others will be expelled from their universities or colleges.

To prevent cheating, punishments must be more severe and rules for gaokao must be stricter so there is no opportunity to cheat, said Bai.

Chu Zhaohui, a researcher with the National Institute of Education Sciences, called for reforms in the college recruitment system and the introduction of professional organizations to run exams.

"Education equality is a start. If there is no equality in education, how can we expect equality in other fields?" said Ye Xiaojian, a teacher at Qixian County high school.

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