It's exam time in China as literally millions of students sit the national College Entrance Exams, which sort out who can progress to University and who must settle for less prestigious further education or join the job pool. Pressure is intense - a recent study showed 62% of American High School students felt high levels of exam stress, while in Japan it was 69%. Korea was 75% but China topped the table with 86%! So it comes as little surprise that suicides and cheating are widespread. State school teachers often turn a blind eye to students cheating, knowing that their own pay will get docked if their students do badly in exams. I sometimes catch my own students trying to cheat in dictations or exams. They may get away with it in a class of 50+ students, but it's easy enough to spot in a class of 8-12!
There was a programme yesterday here on Chinese TV showing some of the high tech methods some students use to cheat - earpieces, internet phones, glasses with mini-cameras, even small digital screens built into erasers. Less high tech, but possibly more insidious, are the incressing number of public school teachers who offer their students paid-for "extra lessons" with the promise that this is where the real exam secrets will be explained. If they do have inside information that is only being passed on to the richer students, that's pretty shocking. If they don't have any special secrets to share, then they are just playing on the exam nerves to make money - equally reprehensible.
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