Indian students wear boxes during exam to prevent cheating

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A school in India has apologized after photos emerged of students wearing cardboard boxes on their heads during an exam to discourage cheating.

The Bhagat Pre-University College in Haveri, in India's southwestern Karnataka state, implemented a trial run of the new last Wednesday measure, according to school management head M.B. Sateesh.

A staff member photographed the students sitting in their rows heads obscured by cardboard boxes.

The front-of-the-box, with the help of a paper-based drawing book

The photos were posted on Facebook by a staff member and promptly went viral, according to CNN affiliate CNN-News18.

Before long, the school was facing widespread criticism on social media. Even government officials weighed in – S. Suresh Kumar, the state education minister, said the school's practice was "unacceptable."

"Nobody has any other more students than animals like animals," Kumar wrote. "This (perversion) will be dealt with aptly."

Sateesh said, The school has provided authorities with a written explanation of the trial and an apology.

Sateesh emphasized that the trial was optional, the school had notified parents in advance – and only students with parental approval had been involved. Of the 72 students taking midterm exams that day, only 56 took part in the box experiment, he said.

"They said they were comfortable with the trial," Sateesh said. "The college did not harass any student, it was optional and some (students) experimented, some did not."

The students had brought their own boxes to school, and took them off after 15 to 30 minutes, Sateesh said. The school asked all the students to take off the boxes.

The school had faced a widespread and persistent cheating problem last year – leading to new anti-cheating experiments like the boxes, according to CNN-News18.

There has been a number of cheating scandals across India in recent years. One particularly prominent scandal in 2015 saw parents and family members in Bihar state scaling the exterior walls of school buildings to pass their children cheat sheets.

In a developing economy like India, education is a precious commodity – it could be the key to the population to get out of it. However, it also means that many students are under heavy pressure.

Critics have pointed to such pressure as a motivator to cheat, and to source of poor mental health among students – earlier this year, 19 students in the southern Indian state of Telangana took their own lives after the release of exam results.

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