As rich Indian families book air tickets and hotels and pack their bags to fly out to cooler climates to escape the oppressive mid-year heat, they are increasingly ticking another box in their pre-excursion must-do list - outsourcing their children’s holiday homework!
Ahead of summer vacations, a leading English newspaper has reported that the rampant practice of outsourcing kids’ holiday homework for a price inevitably lays the foundation of cheating in high school or college exams and the pervasive culture of plagiarism which today characterizes India’s ailing educational system.
Homework shops have sprung up in all big cities and towns of India. Parents make a beeline for these poky, nondescript set-ups where supply meets demand. Services are provided usually by teachers or jobless graduates who don’t want to miss the opportunity to make a fast buck.
Not-so-rich mothers with plenty of experience of handling their own kids’ homework are also part of the well-oiled racket. Enterprising moms are, in fact, as much sought after as teachers themselves, when the ‘holiday homework’ industry revs up in May-June each year, say insiders.
Clearly, affluent Indians want full value for money spent on a holiday whether abroad or in the country. They want their children to extract maximum fun and pleasure undeterred by holiday homework increasingly assigned by schools to ensure that the study routine is maintained even during breaks.
The ‘solution’ lies in hiring reasonably-priced professional hands to quietly do the homework while the kids enjoy a totally stress-free vacation – and parents get their money’s worth.
But some schools are determined not to allow wealthy parents bend the rules for their pampered children by hiring the services of holiday homework providers.
The principal of a prominent school told an interviewer: “We tell students to write a daily dairy during their holiday describing places visited and what they did there. We also tell them to attach photographs clicked with their mobile phones to the project.”
But most schools are not interested in diligently monitoring the situation or blocking loopholes which they know exist.
A few years ago the media highlighted how “Australian high school and university students were outsourcing their homework to sweatshops in India, Pakistan and Egypt which provided English essays and maths papers for as little as $2.” And schools, according to reports, “were powerless to stop cheaters from outsourcing services because custom-made work cannot usually be detected by plagiarism software.”
Educationists say that the role of Indian parents in hiring homework providers legitimizes the practice in the eyes of very young children who find nothing wrong in cheating in higher classes when they grow up.
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