Cheating on high school graduation exams is a common practice in Moldova. Sadly, the practice is widespread and tacitly accepted by Moldovan society. In a way, exams are seen more as a game of survival, with the highest grades going to the people best able to handle the exam and not necessarily the ones who studied more.
This week and next it’s exam time in Moldova, which is coordinated by the Moldovan Ministry of Education. Every year people talk about the cheating that happens, and it got me thinking about the problem. Then on Tuesday, 12 June, people started coming together online to find a way to put an end to the rampant cheating. And if not to stop it, at least to try to change people’s attitude towards it.
First, I created the event named “I’m not helping on exams” that asked people to take a stand and to say no when students taking the BAC ask them to help cheat by sending answers via Facebook, Skype or SMS. I started it because I was actually approached by two of my friends asking me to help them to cheat on the English exam.
Then in a strange turn of events, the Moldovan Utorrent site, torrents.md prohibited users from creating topics and forums concerning the exams or from posting leaked copies of the exams and answers. The site said it made the decision to block BAC-related postings telling students “Because you are your parent’s hope. Because you are the future of this country. Because the knowledge you get now will determine your future!”
After that the blogger Eugen Luchianiuc found photographs of the leaked English and French exams and posted on them his blog. Shortly after, it was featured on news. Then, more blog posts appeared concerning the issue, e.g. by Bloguvern, Nicolae Apostu, Nati Vozian, or Radu Chivriga, many of whom are influencers on Moldovan Facebook.
The Facebook event quickly morphed into a heated online debate about cheating. Many students who had already taken the exam wrote about their experience with the BAC and what they thought are the pros and cons of cheating. Many shared links as more media began to cover the debate. In fact, the issue even set a trend on Facebook; more people were involved the discussion about cheating than about Euro 2012.
As of 14 June, more than 130 have said are attending the no-cheating campaign, and the debate continues with two out of the four exams still to come. The next exam is 15 June.
Will the officials be more involved and take measures to actually stop the cheating, will students start to feel that cheating is wrong, will the pressure be felt more in upcoming days? We are monitoring all of these things online via social media.
It is interesting to note that four years ago, before the popularity of social media, such movements were almost impossible here in Moldova. Since then people in Moldova, have really learned the power that social media can bring in changing opinions and starting a movement. It creates opportunities for people who used to be voices in the wilderness find others like them and to find the support and confidence to take a stand.
There will be a follow up to this article, stay tuned.