Parents will go to any heights to help their children succeed, but some parents in India have taken that to heart — literally. More than 600 Indian students were caught cheating on school exams as news outlets captured footage of parents using ropes to scale walls and hand off cheat sheets to their children inside. But the blatant cheating is yet another reminder of India's still fragile education system that has not yet opened its doors to everyone in the country.
The incident took place Wednesday in the eastern India state Bihar, and the 10th grade students who received help or smuggled papers into the classroom were expelled. The expelled students were among 1.4 million teens in the state taking the required end-of-the-year tests, which determine whether or not they advance to the next grade. Students caught cheating could be banned from taking the tests for up to three years, required to pay a fine, or even put in jail, according to Bihar School Examination Board secretary Sriniwas Tiwari.
State authorities were posted at schools to prevent parents and relatives from interfering, but Bihar's education minister P.K. Shahi told the AP that 6 million parents and relatives who accompany students to the tests couldn't be monitored at all times.
It's virtually impossible to conduct fair examinations without the cooperation of parents.... We can't use force to drive away the parents.
Education has become a key tool for escaping poverty in India, and school enrollment has dramatically increased in recent years, spurring intense competition and rampant cheating throughout the country. But the Bihar incident is another reminder of who really hurts the most from India's education system: millions of Indian children who have never seen the inside of a classroom.
As much as India has developed in the last decade, it is still a country largely made up of villages and rural towns. The government has struggled to provide equal education opportunities for 435 million Indians under the age of 18. According to 2011 census numbers, India's literacy rate is at 74 percent, which puts the world's largest democracy laps behind other countries. Nonprofit Teach for India says only 10 percent of Indian children ever make it to college.
Earlier this year, Narendra Modi, who was elected India's prime minister in 2014, launched a national campaign to encourage parents to send children, specifically their daughters, to school to educate them and revert discrimination against girls. But the solutions to India's lagging education come from socioeconomic policies that help parents afford to send children to school and make education more accessible. Let's focus on the many Indian children who remain outside school walls, who aren't even in a position to cheat anyway.
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