For the past two months, a campaign has been ongoing in Balochistan, aimed at curbing the ‘menace’ of cheating in exams. The slogan used by the Department of Education to raise awareness about the issue is ‘Cheating is the death of education.’
I grew up studying in the same educational system and little has changed since my days. To see whether or not this campaign was effective, or even needed, I decided to visit a few schools in Gwadar and its peripheries, and learn the perspective of the students.
At one of the schools, when I asked a student of Class 9, Ahmad Baloch, about the campaign, his response was, “Cheating may be the death of education, but in our case, what education? When we haven’t even been taught the entire syllabus of a subject let alone taught well, what is a student to do except cheat and somehow manage to pass?”
When I put the same question to another student Munawwar Ali, he said, “We don’t have a Physics teacher, we have studied only 1.2 exercises in the Maths book, and the exams are now just around the corner. There’s no way for us but to cheat and pass the exams.”
The grievances of the students appear fair and valid. When I entered the Middle School in Ghatti Dhor, I found out that students were having their classes in the veranda while sitting on the floor. Only five teachers were present at the spot, with many others missing and the building of the school was in shambles.
Next, I visited the Kapri Muhallah school at Sarbandar, a small town near Gwadar. Speaking about the schools, the locals said that the school has long been awarded the status of a Middle School but it continues to comprise of two rooms in a collapsing building. They also said that many teachers are missing.
In the view of these findings, I find it hard to see the use of any campaign trying to address cheating in exams. If the students are not imparted education in the first place, if the education infrastructure is not even there and teachers are missing in most schools, what is the use of such a campaign but simply to waste resources on a futile cause.
This article was originally published in Urdu on PakVoices’ Gwadar website