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[Opinion] SAT Radio Wave Detectors

Posted September. 27, 2005 05:56,   


Many older-generation people do not know how to check received text messages on mobile phones, let alone how to send them. Last year, members of the older generation were shocked. It was almost unbelievable that large-scale cheating using cellular phones were committed on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).

A series of revelations on the Internet by “digital kids” followed. Those revelations said that cheating while taking SAT has already become so common to the point where it is viewed as a “customary practice” among students, and that cheating using cellular phones is “basic.” Instead of those digital kids who questioned if it was an act to be blamed, elders of our society “hit themselves with a whip,” saying, “We should take full responsibility because we failed to instill morals in our children.”

Shortly after, Minister of Information and Communications Chin Dae-je said, “The ministry will consider installing cellular phone radio wave interceptors at all SAT examination sites.” This February, the Office for Government Policy Coordination announced, “The office will come up with measures to thwart cheating attempts using next-generation instruments whose real nature are yet to be known. Those instruments include a cutting-edge camera pen.” This March, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources presented the nation with an ambitious plan to deploy radio wave detectors at all examination sites.

At that time, it seemed that we were heading into an age when there will be no cheating on the SAT.

With the SAT test date less than two months away from now, it turns out that using radio wave detectors for this year’s test is virtually impossible. It’s because sample products of local makers came out too late and many problems were found out during demonstrations of Korean and foreign products: at demonstrations, not all mobile phone users were traced. An installation of radio wave interceptors at examination sites is also in question because the Ministry of Information and Communications is skeptical about the feasibility of the plan. All these show that we only wasted time doing nothing so far.

Who will take responsibility, if cheaters employing not only cellular phones but also next-generation instruments mar the test this time around?

This “cellular phone cheating” glaringly reveals the weaknesses in our society as a whole, ranging from malfunctioning education to lack of morals. The way the government dealt with this also clearly showed the weaknesses of the government as a whole. The Ministry of Education and Human Resources and the Gwangju Metropolitan Office of Education were negligent about investigating and coming up with measures even after they were tipped off on about 40 allegations related to cheating. When the Board of Audit and Inspection demanded that the Gwangju Metropolitan Office of Education punish officials in charge, it looked protective of its members because it only slapped them on the wrist. The “roadmap,” including radio wave detectors, which was announced with much fanfare, has become less of a reality than a confession of lips. Now that even young students have come to know the real level of the government’s state-affairs management, it raises concerns that activities that flout the government may increase.

Kim Soon-deok, Editorial Writer, yuri@donga.com