Proctors overseeing a college admissions exam in Zhongxiang, China did their job so well that they caused a riot, Malcolm Moore reports for The Daily Telegraph. A new pilot program for stricter monitoring was implemented after years of questionable results – including a submission of 99 identical answer sheets in one subject – made the organizers suspect excessive cheating.
And excessive it had to be to draw this much attention. According to Moore, cheating on the exam, known as gaokao, is endemic all over the country — so much so that when proctors took steps like confiscating mobile phones before the exam and preventing people outside from trying to contact test-takers, both students and their parents rioted and blockaded the building. Police had to be called to disperse the mob and free the teachers trapped inside.
By late afternoon, the invigilators were trapped in a set of school offices, as groups of students pelted the windows with rocks. Outside, an angry mob of more than 2,000 people had gathered to vent its rage, smashing cars and chanting: “We want fairness. There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat.”
According to the protesters, cheating is part and parcel of the gaokao, and putting in excessive measures to stop it puts their children at a disadvantage compared to test-takers from other parts of the country.
The methods to curb cheating included replacing students’ own teachers with proctors recruited at random and swiping students with metal detectors to find cell phones or radio transmitters sometimes disguised as pencil erasers. A number of female monitors were brought in specifically to conduct body searchers of female test-takers.
Test officials also roamed outside of the building while the test was going on, at one point busting two groups of people attempting to communicate with test-takers inside who had taken up a position in a hotel across the street.
Another of the external invigilators, named Li Yong, was punched in the nose by an angry father. Mr Li had confiscated a mobile phone from his son and then refused a bribe to return the handset.
“I hoped my son would do well in the exams. This supervisor affected his performance, so I was angry,” the man, named Zhao, explained to the police later. Hundreds of police eventually cordoned off the school and the local government conceded that “exam supervision had been too strict and some students did not take it well”.