Tuesday,  May 21, 2019,10:56 (GMT+7) 0 0
Big lies in black and white
By Son Nguyen
Thursday,  Jul 19, 2018,21:29 (GMT+7)

Big lies in black and white

By Son Nguyen

All are turned upside down when massive fraud was uncovered this week regarding the outcome of the national high-school graduation examinations, sending shockwaves across the country. On Wednesday, investigators found that an official with Ha Giang Province’s Department of Education had manipulated exam papers to raise the scores of as many as 114 students, which might allow many of them who should have failed in the exams to be qualified for entering top-notch universities. The cheat not only inflicts huge damages on national education, but the entire society as well.

The scandal in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang, which has made big headlines in local media these days, simmered weeks ago when results of the national exams were announced, with students from the poverty-stricken far outscoring others from across the country. In natural-science subjects like mathematics, physics and chemistry, Ha Giang students scored jaw-dropping marks, which the media is skeptical about.

Right after the exam results came out, abnormal achievements in Ha Giang have been pointed out. If the academic performance of Ha Giang students is on a par with the national average, there should be only seven students from the province earning a high score of between 8.6 and 9.6 marks in mathematics, but in reality, the number is 72, according to Dan Tri.

For the A1 exam group of mathematics, physics and English, Ha Giang has 16 students earning a combined score of 28 or above, while the rest of the country has only six students exceeding that threshold, says Thanh Nien. Similarly, Nguoi Lao Dong points out that while the country has only 76 students achieving a score of 27 for the A1 exam group, Ha Giang alone has 36, or nearly half of the total. Nguoi Lao Dong in a report also stresses that many students being children or relatives of leaders in Ha Giang, including the top Party leader of the province, have had their scores altered.

Other media outlets also give similar comparisons. And such abnormal performance has prompted the Ministry of Education to combine with the Ministry of Public Security to launch a probe.

After days of investigation, the fraudster was named.

Vu Trong Luong, vice manager of the Examination Division under Ha Giang’s Department of Education, is initially found to be the main culprit, as he directly altered the scores on 330 exam papers of the 114 students, Lao Dong reports. Right after the Ministry of Education announced the test solutions for all exam subjects on June 27, Luong copied the solutions, and started changing the scores for students upon receiving text messages, according to news website Vnexpress. Who sent such messages remain unanswered, though criminal charges were pressed against Luong yesterday.

As the scandal unfolds, the public indignation is reaching high pitch these days.

Quach Tuan Ngoc, formerly an IT expert at the Ministry of Education and Training, says on Vnexpress that such fraud may have existed for a long time but “it is revealed this time because of the large scale of the cheat.” If just a few students had had the scores revised higher, the scam would have remained unknown.

Dan Tri says that fraud in national exams has occurred not once or twice, but this time sees an unprecedented cheat when the culprit manipulated the national data to change the scores for hundreds of exam papers.

Lao Dong seconds the point, saying such fraud has occurred many times in the past but have not been radically addressed. The newspaper recalls how teacher Do Viet Khoa made video clips in 2006 on other teachers giving solutions to students sitting an exam in Hanoi; how exam inspectors in another video clip ignored principles at another exam in Bac Giang in 2012 to help students copy each other; or how another video clip in 2013 showed inspectors leaving an exam room unattended to in Hanoi City.

While all attention is cannoned to Ha Giang, several news outlets have also noted abnormally high exam scores among students in Son La, Cao Bang and some other provinces.

In Son La, for example, there are as many as 30 students gaining a mathematics score of 9 or higher, while the number should be only six students if academic quality there is aligned with the national average, according to Dan Tri. Or in physics, Son La has 13 students gaining a score higher than 9, while it should have only one, says the online newspaper.

If cheats are found in Ha Giang, such a malpractice might also be discovered in certain other localities as well, reasons Nguoi Lao Dong. And it cannot ruled out that in Ha Giang, this kind of fraud has occurred for a long time, as last year already witnessed high scores among students in the province, says the paper.

“The consequences of this fraud are extremely serious, as it turns upside down all principles and merits in education,” says Lao Dong. Students with poor or average academic performance gain high scores to get admitted to top-notch universities to become doctors, engineers, or military officers, while more qualified students are eliminated, says the paper.

Echoing the point, Thanh Nien ponders whether scores are raised for certain students in interest groups so that such students will have greater job opportunities in the future.

In a commentary, Vnexpress suggests that such fraud from national exams has multiplied into the real life, as seen in numerous fishy promotions and appointments in the State machinery.

“Please remember the case of Ms. Quynh Anh, who started from an errand job at Thanh Hoa Province’s Labor Union. Within six years, the woman rose to the post of division chief at Thanh Hoa Province’s Department of Construction, and was groomed to become deputy director of the department,” says the news site.

There are numerous other promotions, such as in the case of Le Phuoc Hoai Bao, who was named director of Quang Nam Province’s Department of Planning and Investment. Wrongdoing in all these cases has been remedied, but such fraud is not much different from the changes of scores in the national exam. This not only does injustice to thousands of other students but also puts hundreds of thousands of people under the management of those scores-altered students in harm’s way in the future.

Seeing the fraud in Ha Giang as a big lie in black and white, the news site ponders if this scam is just limited to the education sector, or “is it a distorted culture popular in other competitive spheres of the society.

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