Plagiarism and PhD Plague

Substantiating the widespread perception that PhD degree is a commodity and it is sold and faked the police are investigating an Indian university suspected of issuing fake PhDs after it awarded more than 400 doctorates in a single year. AFP reported The police have arrested four senior officials from CMJ University in the northeastern state of Meghalaya on suspicion of fraud and forgery and are hunting for the chancellor, who has fled. PhD faking and plagiarism are going all over the world hand in hand. There is no respite from such news of faking and cheating surfacing.
Probably it will be the most useless attempt to introduce Bangladeshi students with cheating in public examinations. Most of the illiterate guys in this country is not ignorant about copying or plagiarism. But it is growing useless to introduce plagiarism with the North American, European and Scandinavian students, albeit by virtue of media. In Bangla and Arabic plagiarism is popularly known as naqal and to Southeast Asian students the plagiarists are always on the prowl during exams. It is particularly popular with the inattentive students but quite unpopular with the attentive and studious ones.
In spite of rampant cheating and expulsion during exams one may ask what is plagiarism and what are its’ scopes? Usually the following activities are considered as adoption of unfair means:
communicating with fellow students for obtaining help excepting for collaborative work, copying from another student’s script or report or paper, copying from printed matter, hand-written script, writing on desk or palm of hand, or from other incriminating documents during quizzes or exams, plagiarizing or copying from existing work without reference for inclusion in report or paper, possession of any incriminating document, whether used or not, and any approach in direct or indirect form to influence a teacher concerning grades.
In old good days plagiarism was viewed as something highly immoral as other social decadences. Moral decadence of the modern world traces back to death and destruction havocked on the planet during the World War II. It all started when capitalism was put in place and Breton-Woods system was applied to the new world order after 1945 with the US in the helm. The moral standard started eroding during the Pakistan period and the moral depravation reached nadir soon after the independence of Bangladesh and the erosion is still going on.
Personally I know some guys who dropped out of education due to widespread cheating in public examinations in the seventies? They stopped studying even after getting first division in the SSC or equivalent exams. Who is to pay for their sheer frustration about studying hard to learn when cheating went rampant in SSC and HSC or equivalent examinations soon after the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971?

Very recently Harvard suspended around 60 students and disciplined others after a mass cheating scandal at the elite US university.
The cheating, said to have involved students sharing answers in a final exam on a government course, has startled the rest of the world. As many as 125 students at the $63,000-a-year university have been implicated in cheating since the officials first addressed the issue last year.
An inquiry was launched after a teaching assistant in a spring term undergraduate government class detected problems in the take-home test, including that students may have shared answers.
Cheating didn’t stop here in America it went on invading Europe and Scandinavian countries in fairly recent past. Not far ago Hungary’s parliament accepted the resignation of President Pal Schmitt, who announced he was stepping down after losing his doctorate in a plagiarism scandal. Schmitt’s 1992 doctorate was revoked last week after a university committee found that most of his thesis about the modern Olympic Games had been copied from two other authors.
The two-time Olympic gold medal-winning fencer had an instrumental role in pushing the agenda of Orban’s government, signing controversial reforms, such as retroactive taxes, into law.

But what happens in the European power house? Germany’s embattled Education and Science Minister Annette Schavan has resigned over a plagiarism scandal, dealing an election-year blow to Angela Merkel’s government. A university panel recently found the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) minister guilty of “deliberate deception” for using foreign text passages without proper citation in her 33-year-old thesis.
Schavan, 57, reiterated she would challenge the university’s decision legally, insisting that “I neither copied nor deceived” and saying that “the allegations have hurt me deeply”.
Schavan became the second Merkel cabinet minister to quit over plagiarism, which also ended the political career of former defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg in 2011. At the time, Schavan, a tireless campaigner for excellence in education, was among the fiercest critics of zu Guttenberg, then a rising conservative star, saying he should be ashamed of himself.
The plagiarism case around Schavan and her own 1980 doctoral thesis, entitled “People and Conscience” first surfaced in April when an anonymous online posting accused her of cheating.
A panel at Heinrich Heine University in Duesseldorf announced it was withdrawing her doctor title, a decision still subject to an appeals process.
Academic plagiarism scandals – fuelled by the advent of software that can easily find matching text passages in different digitised documents – have damaged several European officials recently. Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta resisted calls to resign over similar allegations.

Now one may ask why both eastern and western educational institutes launch anti-plagiarism drive when exams nock at the next door. Speculating on the reasons behind adopting unfair means in the exam halls one will find common causes similar to that of other moral depravations and social breakdown.
Primarily lack of study at home and subsequent failure in the answering the questions in the exam halls prompt students to copy from others’ answer script. But probably the political leaders like those aforesaid adopt unfair means in their doctoral thesis because they without giving proper time want certificate to invest in political career.
School students of the institutions which don’t arrange attractive classes often fail in the internal as well as public exams tend to cheat fellow examinees ultimately. This means they get less effective teacher-student contact hours. Absence of quality teachers complicates the situation. Even cheating marks Superior Service Pool and departmental examination in Bangladesh government services.

All over the universities and governments of the modern civilisation do studies for knowing about the social issues which most concern them. Even intelligence agencies like FBI conduct studies time to time. The rise in crime in most cases is linked with poverty, unemployment, rights abuse, injustice etc. Even some studies the real cause of social and psychological disorder was post-war freedom and individualism.
There goes statistics and study war in the world. The erupts between civilizations, nations, companies purportedly. Most of the agencies or countries financing their pet researchers to find out something which will serve their purpose. One of the recent studies, done by David Dickinson, of British Institute for Public Policy Research, it examined long-term trends in great detail and, among many other things, demonstrated the simple fact that most criminals are unemployed. Whereas FBI studies don’t hold unemployment primarily responsible for spurt in crime. If the same agency is assigned to conduct studies on terrorism the Federal Investigation Bureau most probably will not find US war on terror, killing of innocent people by drone attack, secretive killings by CIA etc.
Looking deep into the matter inquisitively factor we see invigilators’ lenience in the exam halls prompts students to adopt unfair means. Poor family values may be held responsible partially for cheating by students in public exams.
But why children turn criminal is a great question. There is study by Gwyneth Boswell of the University of East Anglia, reported on the backgrounds of children who kill, rape and injure. After looking at 250 juveniles in prison or in care for the most serious crimes, Dr Boswell found that 40 per cent had been beaten and bullied before they turned to crime and another third had been raped, buggered or otherwise sexually assaulted by a relative or family friend.
Poor pay coupled with poor education infrastructure results in poor performance of the teachers. Underpaid teachers, necessarily failing to meet their demands sufficiently with their salary, have to augment their income by doing something else. It certainly affects their performance on the campuses. This tension depresses them deeply and they fail to be 100 per cent sincere to their occupation of teaching. As a result students get the smaller pie of devotion. University teachers, certainly those who have demand on the consultancy market, look for consultancy jobs, part-time jobs in private university, get involved politics in some cases and those who have nothing to do. What about college teachers? Non-govt college teachers particularly those who get students for private tuition can augment income smoothly but those who don’t get tuition they do a variety of businesses including stock business to running a library.
Madrassah teachers of different institutions under Monthly Pay Order toe the lines of college and schoolteachers. A good number of them hardly make any difference though they know cheating is prohibited in the holy Quran and the Hadith. Pecuniary crisis prompt them to resort to augment income. What is the immediate effect? They get preoccupied with the profession yielding much or accruing much to his or her income. At the same time they get tired in adding something to their existing salary. So they poorly perform in grooming up their students and live up to the expectation of world standard. The students underperform, paving the way for cheating by the students in public exams. In defense of traditional madrassah education in Bangladesh a section of teachers claim that ‘Islamic education’ will be stalled if we don’t allow our students to copy each other in public exams. Surreal claim indeed. Is it true that without cheating madrassah students can’t pass those exams?
Different education commissions were formed in the last forty years to devise new education policy replacing the old one. The commissions successfully failed to do two things– on the one hand to make teaching profession as the first choice among 29 cadre job in BCS and to expand and popularise technical education among the 10 crore under-30 generation. Education budget in Bangladesh, a developing country, gets on an average around 2.5 per cent of the total budget but Pakistan gets the even lesser for its education. Whereas Japan, which is already a developed country in the world, spends around 47 per cent of their budget. Since the independence of Bangladesh has got several ministers for development of education but one state minister could successfully contain the cheating during 2001-2006 govt which was applauded by the cross section of people.
Enough investment in education, due importance on moral education, stopping concentration of wealth and recruitment of best quality teachers can best stop the plagiarism plaguing our planet. If our parents hadn’t loved most to groom us and the governments had been entrusted to educate us, most of the 710 crore people would have remained ignorant.


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