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Thai students given blinkers to stop cheating

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A Thai university has taken drastic steps to stop would-be cheats by introducing makeshift 'blinkers' for its examinees, thwarting students tempted by a furtive glance at their peers' exam papers. (AFP/Illustration)

A Thai university has taken drastic steps to stop would-be cheats by introducing makeshift 'blinkers' for its examinees, thwarting students tempted by a furtive glance at their peers' exam papers.

The bizarre headgear -- consisting of two A4 sheets of plain white writing paper attached by paperclips to a headband -- was worn by nearly 100 students on Wednesday during a textile exam.

It was the brainchild of a professor at one of Bangkok's most famous universities who was concerned that his small exam room would encourage plagiarism.

But a photograph posted on Facebook of the students sporting the blinkers -- which they made and customised themselves -- during the exam at Kasetsart University, had by Friday stirred ridicule from the Thai press and social media.

The controversy prompted the university to scrap the blinkers while the teacher behind the scheme toured television studios to explain the unusual measure.

"It was for fun, relaxation and humour for the students... I want them to feel relaxed in their exams," Nattadon Rungruangkitkrai told AFP over the telephone.

The 40-year-old professor said the idea came about during discussions with students last week about how to prevent cheating.

"It is a trial idea agreed between me and the students -- they liked it. They said the blinkers could release stress during the exam and help them concentrate," he added.

An education expert said the incident suggested cheating was rife in the Thai education system and among wider society.

"It's in their nature to help their friends by allowing other people to copy," Somphong Chitradub, an education expert at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University told AFP.

"But they have to respect themselves -- competing by copying is nothing to be proud of."