1/18/2009, 11:57 p.m. ESTBy CHI-CHI ZHANG
The Associated Press
BEIJING (AP) — Nearly 1,000 people have been caught cheating on China's notoriously competitive civil service entrance exams, some with high-tech listening devices in their ears, state media reported Monday.
The official China Daily newspaper said in an editorial the number caught cheating was the largest ever for the exam.
Cheating during tests is common in the country of 1.3 billion people, where pressure to pass competitive national exams for entrance to universities and civil service jobs is intense. About 9.5 million young people take college entrance exams each year, but only one in four are eligible for college enrollment.
(external - login to view) The cheaters had people feeding them information through wireless mini earplugs, and bought standard answers for the exams from outside companies, the official Xinhua News Agency cited the State Administration of Civil Service as saying. About 775,000 people took the competitive civil servant exam last year to fill just 13,500 available positions. In some cases thousands were competing for more coveted positions, such as a ministry or a department with travel prospects, Xinhua reported.
Calls to the State Administration of Civil Service rang unanswered Monday.
There are no specific rules in dealing with cheaters in regards to civil servant exams, but they should face the harshest punishment, the China Daily said.
"Those who cheat in examinations for civil servants fall into the category of worst offenders and deserve the severest punishment," the editorial said. It said civil servants should be role models in moral integrity.
An earlier Xinhua report warning the public not to buy exam answers, said exam papers were state secrets and those caught leaking them faced three to seven years in prison.
China's civil service exam has been in place from imperial times and has long been seen as a stepping stone to social status and financial stability.