Friday March 20, 2015

Indian parents scale building to help kids cheat on exam

In this Wednesday, March 18, 2015 file photo, Indians climb the wall of a building to help students appearing in an examination in Hajipur, in the eastern Indian state of Bihar. Education authorities in eastern India say 600 high school students have been expelled after they were found to have cheated on pressure-packed 10th grade examinations. (AP Photo/Press Trust of India, File)

In this Wednesday, March 18, 2015 file photo, Indians climb the wall of a building to help students appearing in an examination in Hajipur, in the eastern Indian state of Bihar. Education authorities in eastern India say 600 high school students have been expelled after they were found to have cheated on pressure-packed 10th grade examinations. (AP Photo/Press Trust of India, File) (Press Trust of India/Associated Press)

Listen 6:40

In eastern India, hundreds of 10th grade students were expelled after they were caught cheating on their exams earlier this week.

Of course, cheating in itself isn't a new phenomenon in India or anywhere. But what caught people's attention around the world were the people — friends and family members — who literally climbed buildings to give the students the answers they needed to pass those tests. Photos and videos showing this scene have gone viral.

RAW: Students in India brazenly cheat on exams1:34

This year, the 10th grade examination is expected to be taken by more than 1.4 million students. Pressure is high because in order for a student to continue their education, this test must be passed.

"They're make or break exams in a student's career." Rama Lakshmi, a correspondent and Washington Post social media editor, tells As It Happens host Carol Off. "It determines what stream you take, what college you get into -- whether you take science or commerce or arts or another humanities. So you have to score. Competition is just huge and cutthroat."

But why are friends and parents climbing the building in the first place?

"They're going up to the window and they're rolling cheat sheets, rolling them into a ball and sending them in, or some have made them into [paper] airplanes," says Lakshmi.

As a result of this extreme cheating, about 600 students were expelled. Two dozen parents were detained after being caught. Later, however, all were released.