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    Bought grades, sold souls an all-access pass through the halls of high

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    Posts : 73
    Join date : 2010-07-31
    Location : Thailand

    Bought grades, sold souls an all-access pass through the halls of high

    Post by Admin on 3rd January 2011, 12:06 am

    Want a bachelor's degree? One can be had for between 37,000 to 90,000 baht, depending on the institution. There's a service that will hack into a university's computer, insert your name on a degree and voila, you can even join the graduation ceremony.

    Want a 3.5 GPA? No problem. A hacker can arrange it. Want to be on the honour roll? Just pay a little more.

    In fact, your kids can even obtain a primary school certificate; that's only 5,000 to 8,000 baht.

    Too dumb to do an MBA thesis? No problem. For anywhere between 120,000 and 280,000 baht, someone will write one for you.

    A friend of mine owns a learning institute (one of the many in the country) that caters specifically to rich little boys and girls who are too stupid to write their own theses, but whose parents nevertheless love them very much. Business is always brisk. Want to have the title ''Dr'' precede your name? A doctoral thesis will cost you just a bit more.

    Don't want to cheat too blatantly? Want to at least make the effort of pretending to go to school? No problem, a few Thai institutes of higher learning offer ''pay and pass'' programmes. As long as you pay your tuition, you will graduate.

    Unofficial, but highly popular, eight- year programmes are also available so that they can milk as much money from parents as possible.

    A colleague of mine, who I refer to as ''the walking encyclopaedia'', is currently writing doctoral theses for a few of the 111 banned politicians. They plan to make their return to politics with a PhD because it will look good to the voters. Business is brisk.

    Pay to pass is old news. Hiring a ghost writer to complete a thesis is common, so is the straight-up purchase of a a degree. It's the same old story. The emergence of computer hackers who can give you a degree and put you on the honour roll is just a new twist.

    In all of these cases, it is not the sons and daughters who are paying for the grades and degrees. It's the parents. It's not the students who sell the grades and degrees, it's the adults. And oftentimes, it's the teachers, the administrators and the institutions themselves making the profits.

    Put all that together with the news in recent months that teachers are failing exams in basic subjects like maths and science, and that they are coming up with substandard questions for the O-Net exam, and what do we get?

    Cheating and corruption is the norm at all levels of society, and incompetency is the sum of our failings.

    Consequently, both the government and private sectors are replete with executives and ministers, managers and bureaucrats with snazzy overseas degrees on their walls and little of anything in their brains.

    It is no wonder then that we are not ready to open our industries to foreign competition. We just don't have the skills or knowledge to compete, even with the fancy degrees. Of course, there are many genuinely brilliant and honest minds in Thailand. But we have to compete as a whole, not by the handful.

    I recently finished my first semester of lecturing at a university. There are those students who are brilliant and meticulous. It was is joy to teach them. There are those students who are very creative, but bored to death with education. Give them a project that challenges them and gets their creative juices flowing, and they will dazzle. Give them an assignment or an exam that requires researches and study, and witness an exercise in mediocrity. It is then the job of the educator to find a way to stimulate them.

    There are also those students who couldn't care less; those who cheat without batting an eye.

    Why?

    There's an old but true answer to that question, one that has no boundaries and is not specific to any culture.

    From Bangkok to Timbuktu, we know that leaders need to set an example for their followers, that adults must provide an exemplary model that the young can emulate.

    Ladies and gentlemen, a typical classroom is simply a mirror-image of the society at large.

    Should we be surprised that the young prefer cheating, when the parents are only too eager to help them do so? Should we be shocked that students don't care about education, when teachers aren't qualified to educate?

    Constitution Court judges vehemently deny (allegedly) being caught on tape (allegedly) involving them in an (alleged) exam leak scandal, and there's no investigation, no repercussions. Doctors, who have sworn an oath to heal without discrimination, declare that they will refuse to treat patients if a bill that will allow them to be sued for medical malpractice is passed.

    Should we be baffled that students display no guilt or remorse when caught cheating?

    Cheating politicians are allowed to run in by-elections and return to their posts. Half of the country supports a former prime minister who was found guilty of corruption and who fled the country. The other half supports a prime minister who condones the rampant corruption in his government.

    Should we then be perplexed that students believe they could and should get away with cheating?

    If, according to an Abac poll, 76.1% of Thais believe that corruption is OK, as long as the country prospers, does that mean adults and parents believe students' cheating is OK, as long as they pass and graduate?

    If 16-year-old Orachorn Thephasadin Na Ayudhya (who now claims she is 17) believes that she should gets away with hitting a van on the tollway and causing the deaths of nine people, should we only blame the girl and her well-connected family? Or should we recognise the fact that this is how society works _ and that is because we, the Thai people, work it that way?

    If we want to solve Thailand's woes, overcome our failings and progress into the brave new world, we need to stop pointing fingers at others and start accepting responsibility for the things we do each and every day of our lives. There can't be a crisis among the younger generation unless the old generation instigates it.

    No doubt, there will be those holier-than-thous who will insist, ''Not me! I'm not responsible for any of this! It's all of you! But not me!'' Well, fine.

    As for the rest of us, we all have done things we wish we hadn't.

    Just last week, I woke up thinking to myself of a deed (or misdeed) that occurred the previous night. I thought, ''Blast it, I hope there wasn't any CCTV around.''

    The young will aspire to be whatever the adults show them they could or should be. We adults have set a very poor example.

    There will be more mistakes, more failings, but at the end of it all, there are better things that we can do in life.

    It's the second decade of the second millennium, and we could and should give the future of the Thai society a second chance by setting a better example for our children, stumbling along the way as we might.

      Current date/time is 24th October 2018, 3:06 am