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Testing times: Bihar, K'taka show the way when it comes to out-of-the-box answers

As out-of-the-box thinking is disapproved, putting students’ heads in them is inevitable.

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Oct 21, 2019, 11.01 AM IST
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PTI
First-year science students of Bhagat PU College sit for a midterm exam with cardboard cartons covering their heads — with a hole cut out in the front for their face, in Haveri district of Karnataka.
First-year science students of Bhagat PU College sit for a midterm exam with cardboard cartons covering their heads — with a hole cut out in the front for their face, in Haveri district of Karnataka.
Given the sheer scale of the problem of cheating during examinations, it is not surprising that at least one teacher in Bihar thought he had a carton blanche to think of out-of-the-box solutions, and another in Karnataka was inspired to do the same to contain copying. But putting cartons on the heads of students — with one side cut out so that they could actually see what they were writing, much less cheat — was surely too literal a translation.

It is not surprising, however, that the Bihar and Karnataka ‘experiments’ had precedents in places as far afield as Mexico and Thailand as cheating is not confined to examination-obsessed India. That less cumbersome paper ‘blinker’ caps — whose side-flaps made examinees look like Japanese samurai — debuted at a university in Bangkok in 2013 and led another university there to ‘invent’ the anti-cheating box soon after, also shows a regional congruence on how to deal with the problem.

As India does not have the funds to instal overhead cameras or even send up invigilator drones to catch cheaters — as Belgium tested in 2014 — repurposing ubiquitous cardboard cartons appears to be the cheapest and most eco-friendly, if uncomfortable, alternative. Besides, thinking out of the box is not encouraged in India’s education system anyway, so ensconcing students’ heads in them merely reiterates this policy.

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