Singaporean tutor convicted in FaceTime-powered exam cheating plot

The Singaporean tutor used the iPhone’s video chat app FaceTime to connect with her three accomplices and provided a “live feed of the exam papers” she was answering, according to the prosecutors. (AFP)
Updated 17 April 2018
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Singaporean tutor convicted in FaceTime-powered exam cheating plot

SINGAPORE: A Singaporean private tutor has been convicted over an elaborate scheme to help Chinese secondary school students cheat in an exam using mobile phones and wireless devices, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Tan Jia Yan, 32, pleaded guilty on Monday to her part in the plot in which answers to O-Level exams were relayed to at least six students via mobile phones concealed under their clothing and connected wirelessly to skin-colored earpieces, they said.
Tan, who will be sentenced next month, faces a jail term of up to three years and a fine.
Academic excellence is highly valued in Singapore which often tops international education rankings, although the system has been criticized for putting children under too much pressure at a young age.
The Chinese nationals who took the exams in October, 2016 were students at a tuition center where Tan was a teacher.
Students in the city-state often go for extra tuition in order to have better chances of passing key exams such as O-Levels, which determine if they can qualify for junior college, a direct path to university.
Details of the case provided by the Attorney General’s Chambers said Tan conspired with three accomplices to cheat the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board.
On the test days, the students were made to conceal mobile phones and Bluetooth devices under their clothing and wear an earpiece, according to the prosecutors.
Tan, who was also among those taking the exams, had an iPhone taped on her chest area and she concealed the device by wearing a jacket.
Once the tests started, Tan used the iPhone’s video chat app FaceTime to connect with her three accomplices and provided a “live feed of the exam papers” she was answering, according to the prosecutors.
The accomplices — who have pleaded not guilty — would find the answers to the questions and call the students individually to relay the answers.
“Investigations revealed that the above sophisticated cheating operations ran uninterrupted from 19 October until 24 October 2016,” the prosecutors said.
The cheating was exposed on the final day when one of the students was caught after an invigilator heard “unusual electronic transmission sounds emitting from him,” they said.


Rickshaw pullers fade from India’s streets

Updated 27 April 2018
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Rickshaw pullers fade from India’s streets

KOLKATA: Mohammad Maqbool Ansari puffs and sweats as he pulls his rickshaw through Kolkata’s teeming streets, a veteran of a gruelling trade long outlawed in most parts of the world and slowly fading from India too.
Kolkata is one of the last places on earth where pulled rickshaws still feature in daily life, but Ansari is among a dying breed still eking a living from this back-breaking labor.
The 62-year-old has been pulling rickshaws for nearly four decades, hauling cargo and passengers by hand in drenching monsoon rains and stifling heat that envelops India’s heaving eastern metropolis.
Their numbers are declining as pulled rickshaws are relegated to history, usurped by tuk tuks, Kolkata’s signature yellow taxis and modern conveniences like Uber.
Ansari cannot imagine life for Kolkata’s thousands of rickshaw-wallahs if the job ceased to exist.
“If we don’t do it, how will we survive? We can’t read or write. We can’t do any other work. Once you start, that’s it. This is our life,” he tells AFP.
Sweating profusely on a searing hot day, his singlet soaked and face dripping, Ansari skilfully weaves his rickshaw through crowded markets and bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Wearing simple shoes and a chequered sarong, the only real giveaway of his age is his long beard, snow white and frizzy, and a face weathered from a lifetime plying this disappearing trade.
Twenty minutes later, he stops, wiping his face on a rag. The passenger offers him a glass of water — a rare blessing — and hands a note over.
“When it’s hot, for a trip that costs 50 rupees ($0.75) I’ll ask for an extra 10 rupees. Some will give, some don’t,” he said.
“But I’m happy with being a rickshaw puller. I’m able to feed myself and my family.”