Should candidates be searched before they go to the toilet?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 May, 2006, 12:00am

Kevin Kung, 15

Ying Wa CollegeYes, because this is one of the most effective ways to eliminate cheating in exams.

We should not stop candidates from answering 'the call of nature'. Instead, the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) should allow teachers-in-charge to frisk students before they go to the toilet.

First, mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) should be banned. But how do the authorities ensure that the candidates follow the rules? The only solution is to search them before they take their toilet break.

According to a South China Morning Post report, the HKEAA is looking at how other places deal with the problem. The mainland and Taiwan treat cheating in public exams as a criminal offence. So I don't see anything wrong with Hong Kong examiners searching candidates who leave the hall, even if it's only for a few minutes.

Currently, a teacher is sent to monitor candidates, but once the toilet door is closed, they could easily cheat by sending SMS or surfing the Web.

Asking candidates to keep their phones or PDAs in full view of the examiner won't work. Students can put one on the floor and use another one to cheat.

If teachers were allowed to search candidates, they wouldn't risk being caught.

It's better late than never to have a fair system for all students at the HKCEE and A-Levels.

Annie Tai, 16

Shung Tak Catholic English College

No. There were complaints that some students who took the HKCEE English Paper 2 cheated by using a toilet break to look up answers on the internet.

Some people suggested that candidates be searched before they are allowed to go to the toilet.

But I don't think this is a practical solution.

Police frisk suspected criminals. You don't do this to pupils who are just sitting for an exam.

Besides, cheats will not allow their tools to be discovered easily. Who knows where they will hide their papers and hi-tech gadgets?

If they are hidden on the body, teachers risk being accused of sexual harassment. This could be hugely embarrassing.

Moreover, candidates who simply want to use the washroom will have to undergo great inconvenience and waste precious time as they are subjected to a body search.

In addition, if the teachers are busy checking the toilet-goers, who will stop the cheats in the hall?

Candidates should not be treated like terrorists. What's the purpose of education if students don't realise the importance of honesty and trust?

Measures, such as banning mobile phones from exam halls, recording the time spent by a candidate in the toilet and comparing unusual mark distribution, are adequate.

Anything more will be an over-reaction.