Exam results must be above suspicion
Any attempt to rig examination results is unforgivable. To do this for personal benefit makes it even worse. Concerns have been raised after suspicious exam scores have been found at courses provided by the government-funded Vocational Training Council. A teachers union said it had received a handful of complaints involving teachers giving tips or inflating students' marks to improve their own performance evaluations and to keep their jobs. The allegations are very serious. At stake is not only the council's reputation as Hong Kong's largest vocational training institute but also the question of whether the graduates are professionally qualified and will be able to meet job market's requirements.
Last week, a teacher of a business management diploma course at a Kwun Tong institute told this paper that her colleague had allegedly propped up the scores of 11 students who had originally failed. As a result, the pass rate went up from 60 per cent to 75 per cent. Although the council stressed that teachers' performance was not tied to students' grades, unionists believed teachers employed on renewable short-term contracts were under pressure to produce better academic results. A good passing rate is also said to help attract more students.
The allegations have raised serious concerns over the credibility of the council's teaching and examination system. If exam results are rigged, not only is it unfair to students who worked hard to obtain high scores, employers may end up recruiting sub-standard graduates.
There is no evidence to suggest that the council sought to present a glowing academic record to justify the annual HK$1.9 billion funding from the government. But with a capacity of 190,000 training places a year, the council has to ensure that teaching and grading follow fair and objective benchmarks. Thorough investigations should be launched to see if teachers have been tampering with exam results because of their own career concerns. Any wrongdoing must be followed by appropriate punishment. A credible exam mechanism is essential.