Plagiarism in schools.
Plagiarism is a matter too lightly taken in many schools, in Asia. I say this, because it seems much too common and I rather feel it would not be so, if a harsher stance were taken against it. It is, for instance, almost expected that students will plagiarize, in China - which is famous for this, yet, the problem extends beyond China and is found throughout Asia.
I heard a true story recently which may indicate why plagiarism is so prevalent. In a school, in Malaysia, an art and design teacher caught out a foreign student, in an act of plagiarism. She duly announced that was going to deduct 20% from the piece of work, owing to its lack of originality. Now, that should have been the end of that. The student should have been taught a lesson not to plagiarize in future, for they would be suitably penalized. Yet, that was not the end of the matter. This particular student made a very vociferous complaint about this NEW teacher, to the senior management of the school, for marking her down. Guess what happened then? Please have a think about it.
Well, the senior management had a word with the teacher. She was instructed to reinstate the student's mark and was led to understand that she was not to do such a thing, again.
I was shocked. A young teacher had taken a stand against plagiarism and her school had taken a stand FOR plagiarism: they had dressed her down for her action and forced to go back on her decision.
Now, what lesson did the plagiarizing student learn from this? She no doubt thinks that all she has to do, to be able to get away with theft, in future, is to make a loud fuss about it and complain about whoever finds her out. Thus, is plagiarism encouraged and rewarded.
Plagiarism will continue to be endemic not only in Asian schools, but throughout Asian society, as long as the educational system (and other institutions of the cultures) do not take a stand against it.
In my mind, the greater wrong here, was committed by the manager who decided to force the teacher to reverse her decision. Failing to support a teacher who is trying to instil a respect for originality, is a far greater crime, than the plagiarism itself.
For those who like to know such things, this event took place in a school in the Kuala Lumpur area of Malaysia. However, it should never have taken place at all. I hope this story might persuade other schools to be more supportive of the fight against plagiarism.
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