Indonesia's new exam system fails to prevent cheating

Indonesia's new exam system fails to prevent cheating
A fine of NT$600,000 (S$26,080) has been issued to an individual who offered to write essays and theses for university students.

JAKARTA - Despite a new system being introduced for this year's national examinations, with the most notable change that the exams no longer determine whether a student graduates or not, it has failed to prevent students from cheating.

The Federation for Indonesian Teachers Associations (FSGI) said on Wednesday that while the amount of cheating might have decreased, it still received reports of cheating and leaked materials.

"Cheating still occurs, although the amount has decreased [this year]," FSGI secretary-general Retno Listyarti told a press conference at the Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) in Central Jakarta.

In 2011, the FSGI received 102 reports of cheating, which increased to 317 in 2012 and soared to 1,035 in 2013. Then in 2014, reports plunged to 304 and further decreased to 91 this year.

For example, the FSGI received reports of transactions surrounding national exam materials up until two days before the first day of exams, which was on Monday. The reports were from East Java and Jakarta.

"In East Java, the cases happened in Mojokerto and Lamongan, where the answer keys to the exam were priced up to Rp 14 million ($1400), with students pitching in Rp 50,000 each to pay [for the answers]," Retno said.

Meanwhile, a student in Jakarta had to pitch in between Rp 50,000 and Rp 100,000 to pay for an answer key, which cost from Rp 14 million to Rp 21 million, according to Retno.

But the number of such transactions happening before the exams was down to two from 11 last year.

During the exams, which lasted until Wednesday for the paper-based exams and Thursday for the computer-based exams, the FSGI also received reports from teachers who discovered that their students came to the classroom armed with answer keys, although not all of them were accurate.

"Students who reported to the FSGI said that the 2015 national exam materials were leaked everywhere," the federation's presidium member Jaka Sukardana said on Wednesday.

He was referring to 30 packets of national exam materials allegedly uploaded to Google Drive by one of the printing companies that won the tender for the national exams.

The Culture and Elementary and Secondary Education Ministry discovered the leakage on Monday after receiving reports and immediately asked Google, Inc. to block access to the documents, which it did on Monday night.

But before that, the documents could be easily downloaded by anyone since last Saturday.

The documents contained materials for national exams in two regions, Culture and Elementary and Secondary Education Minister Anies Baswedan said on Wednesday, declining to disclose the name of the regions.

However, a teacher in Jakarta discovered the link last Saturday and downloaded it, assuming that the materials were only for mock-up tests used for practice.

However, the teacher found that the materials were exactly the same as the questions in the national exams that he supervised.

Besides Jakarta, the FSGI also received reports that the leaked materials matched with exams in Pemalang regency, Central Java, and Bandung, West Java.

While the materials leaked online only constituted 0.25 per cent of the total of 11,730 national exam packets, the true impact of the leakage remained to be seen as it was not yet possible for the ministry to know how many students benefited from the leakage, according to Anies.

He added that the case was currently being handled by the National Police's detective division, with the printing company that allegedly leaked the materials being located in Jakarta.

The fact that the materials could be easily downloaded was evident in the behaviour of the students during the exams, according to Jaka.

Usually, students would show up late to their exams because they were still scrambling to obtain leaked materials, while this year, only two or three out of dozens of students in a classroom were late.

"It was because they did not have to look [hard] for the leaked answers [to the exams]. The questions had been answered or discussed by other students who obtained the leaked materials from Google for free," Jaka said.

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