23 detained in Henan test-taking scandal

Updated: 2014-06-20 08:06

By Qi Xin in Zhengzhou and Zheng Jinran in Beijing (China Daily)

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Twenty-three suspects, including students and teachers, are being held in the national college entrance exam "ghostwriter" scandal in Henan province, the province's admission office said on Thursday.

The scandal will not affect other exam-assessment procedures, the office added.

"The admission scores and process will not be affected by the ongoing investigation," said Liu Zhengjun, director of the publicity department at the admissions office in Henan province. The admission scores will be publicized on Thursday, he added.

Investigators say several teachers organized college students to take gaokao exams using the names of real applicants during the exam in Henan's Qixian and Tongxu counties. The teachers bribed exam monitors and other officials to get the imposters through the stringent checks.

Soon after China Central Television exposed the scandal, education and public security bureaus in the province started investigating, including thorough comparisons of photos, videos and fingerprints of all the province's participating students.

Of the 23 suspects being held as of Wednesday night, four are students suspected of using surrogate test takers.

"Once confirmed, those students will have a score of zero for the exam," said Liu from the admissions office, adding that additional checks will be added to the college register process.

As the investigation continues, more suspects will be identified, said Luo Lie, publicity official from the public security bureau in Kaifeng, where the two counties are located.

Before the CCTV report, Henan province had found a total of 127 students using ghostwriters.

"We took fingerprints by machines before the exam, but the surrogate exam-takers can still finish their task, which means the supervision measure is not efficient," said Ma Muyu, 18, a participant in the gaokao from Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan.

Mu Aimin, Ma's mother, also said the exam supervision is lax, and that makes the competition unfair.

"The parents who hired ghostwriters did not help their children at all. They are responsible for the future of their children and the surrogate exam-takers too," she said.

Though authorities have used technology to fend off ghostwriters, similar incidents have occurred in many provinces in recent years.

"The root cause of such repeated scandals in gaokao lies in the current education management system," said Chu Zhaohui, a senior researcher at National Institute of Education.

Schools and teachers are under instructions of education departments. If people can bribe officials at the top of the system, then they can go through the whole process easily.

"Setting up a professional committee to organize the college entrance exam is an efficient way" to deal with the scandal, he said. Such a committee would be immune from the direct influence of education departments, keeping the exam fair, he added.