On Monday April 1, the Secondary School Certificate examinations given by the Boards of Secondary Education started across Sindh. There were complaints of rampant use of unfair means by students at many examination centres in Hyderabad, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas and Larkana. It appears that the government of Sindh government is not serious to control this menace.The use of unfair means in examinations, sometimes referred to as copy culture, has been reported everywhere in Pakistan. However, in Sindh, the problem is a virtual epidemic. Every year it makes news on almost all TV channels, headlines in newspapers and a flood of newsfeed on social media. Every one demands that the government take measures necessary to stop it but, sadly, no one insists that the government adopt a pragmatic approach to the problem. The fact is that there is need to identify the causes of the cheating culture to be rid of it. To stop cheating in the examinations the government has authorized totally irrelevant people including politicians, district administration officers, police officials and journalists to intervene in the examination process. Visits by these people tend to scare students. Such inspectors snatch answer sheets from the candidates they suspect or accuse of cheting and use harsh and insulting language against teachers performing duties as invigilators.Flying visits to examination centers and this kind of behaviour will not bring about any improvement. What is needed is structural change in the examination system that compels students to resort to cheating. If we can control cheating in the examinations without rectifying the flaws in the education system what we get is a lot of failed students. This will damage careers of a large number of the youth. Repeated failures will force many of them to abandon their studies. Seeing this more and more parents will simply not enroll their children in schools. Sindh will then have a large number of illiterate young population. The syllabi of secondary school and intermediate examinations are very lengthy. Students in grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 have to study five subjects each. Each subject comprises more than 200 topics. Thus, the students have to remember 1,000 to 1,100 topics for 365 days. They are forced to memorize the contents of the textbooks. This is a difficult task. Moreover, at many schools the students do not get to cover the syllabus on time. Students thus have to take examination while they are not prepared for them.Both the SSC and the HSC examinations are given under the external examinations system. The three tasks – teaching, preparing the examination and evaluation -are performed by three different people. There is no coordination between them. The paper setter is completely ignorant of what the students have been taught. The paper checker is not even slightly aware of their behaviour, weaknesses, strengths and interests. If we can control cheating in the examinations without rectifying the flaws in the education system what we get is a lot of failed students. This will damage careers of a large number of the youth. Repeated failures will force many of them to abandon their studies. Seeing this more and more parents will simply not enroll their children in schoolsOnly about two decades ago, there used to be an internal evaluation system for grades 6, 7 and 8. The whole syllabus was covered on time. It cost less, was speedier and transparent. The three tasks – teaching, paper-setting and paper-checking – were performed by the same teacher. The students had no need to cheat as question papers related to the topics they were taught in the class. This writer was a student during early 1990s and did well without using unfair means. The SSC and the HSC examinations, however, were another matter.To restore the credibility of our examination system, we need to make it capable of being effective, transparent and successful. There is a need to constitute examination clusters for schools and colleges. A cluster should consist of at least 10 secondary schools or four to five intermediate colleges. Teachers should be required to cover the syllabus on time. Paper setters and paper checkers should be appointed from within the clusters. There should be strong coordination between teachers and paper setters. They should meet from time to time to share and discuss the contents of courses they are teaching. 50 per cent marks in a subject should be earned in the board examination and 50 per cent in internal assessment or practical examination. The examinations should be given under strict vigilance to prevent cheating.