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Kuwait bans mobile phones in exam halls

High-tech cheating turning into global phenomenon

Gulf News

Manama: Students in Kuwait have been banned from taking their mobile phones into exam rooms as part of a new drive by the education ministry to combat cheating.

Faced with the fact that technological advances have made cheating easier than ever, Mohammad Al Kandari, the assistant education undersecretary for public education, has instructed exam commissions in all schools to apply stringent measures against all forms of cheating.

Under the instructions, all students will be searched to ensure they are not taking mobile phones into the classrooms. However, their dignity and self-esteem should be preserved during the search, the official said, Kuwaiti media reported on Monday.

“We will work on improving the by-laws dealing with cheating to ensure they are in line with the latest developments and means used by students to cheat,” Al Kandari said.

No official figure about the number of cases of students caught cheating in exams in Kuwait has been given, but several school principals have complained about the misuse by students of mobile phones and other modern devices to get answers to questions.

The use of technology to beat the exam system has brushed aside the use of handwritten slips carefully hidden in pockets or socks and has grown into a universal phenomenon.

In Italy, a technical institute has resorted to military-grade mobile jammers to stop students from using their cellphones to cheat while in Taiwan government officials purchased spectrum analysers to monitor an exam hall filled with prospective government workers. Officials prohibited cellphones during exams and wanted to make sure no smartphone was used to relay answers to test takers.

In Japan, suspect test takers seeking admission to the prestigious Kyoto University and three other top universities used mobile phones to solicit help from a popular website for answers to a series of difficult maths and English questions. The questions were answered by other users while the exam was still under way, the New York Times reported in March 2011.

In Britain, around 2,000 students were penalised in 2009 for bringing “unauthorised material” into GCSE and A-level exams as mobile phones have become increasingly hi-tech and the use of hand-held devices with internet access has turned into one of the biggest headaches for invigilators, The Telegraph reported.

In Bangladesh, exam cheats were last year caught receiving answers on mobile phones that were disguised as wristwatches.

The police said that they arrested ten masterminds behind the scheme who used electronic devices in university admission exams and in job application tests.

According to the Brisbane Times, the criminal organisers bribed teachers or education officials to get the questions shortly before the tests, and then sent the answers via text message to students inside the exam hall.

“A student in a test for a top university or recruitment to a bank or government office would get answers through this hi-tech device after paying 120,000 taka [Dh5,545],” a police officer was quoted as saying.

In Vietnam, the Associated Press reported that more than 20 students paid up to 50 million dong (Dh8,705) to don elaborately wired wigs and shirts that allowed them to cheat and call in test questions and answers on their highly competitive college entrance exams.

In August last year, authorities in Uzbekistan reportedly blocked text messaging and mobile internet use nationwide during university entrance exams from 8.30am to 1.30pm.