This year a round of the Unified National Testing (UNT) in Kazakhstan has ended with a dress up scandal. A young man was caught at the UNT dressed up as a girl. Allegedly Ayan Zhardemov, a 3rd year student of the Kazakh British Technological University, put on a wig and a skirt to take the test instead of his girlfriend in South Kazakhstan Oblast.
“A prejudicial inquiry has been opened against the young man in accordance with the Article 383 of the Criminal Code - Acquisition or Sales of Official Papers or National Awards," a representative of the Maktaaralsk District in South Kazakhstan Oblast said.
The offense is punishable by a fine of up to 200 MCI (minimum calculation index) which equals to nearly 400 thousand tenge ($2130), or by up to 180 hours of public works, or by up to 60 days in jail.
The prosecutors and the general public have very different opinions on case, however. The young man has been branded the most romantic boyfriend among Kazakhstanis in the social media.
Zhardemov, 20, graduated from Daryn School for gifted children with honors. Currently, he studies at KBTU on a scholarship.
The head of the Macroeconomic Research Center Olzhas Khudaibergenov said that he would help the young men pay off the fine in case it was a romantic gesture to help his girlfriend.
“I think everyone has heard of the student who become known as The Romantic of the Year. He studies at KBTU. As a lecturer from this university I am ready to help him pay off the fine that is almost 400 thousand tenge ($2150). (I will contact him tomorrow to pay off a half of it), But I hope his girlfriend will inspire him to engage in legal romantic acts," Khudaibergenov posted on his Facebook page.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education and Science applied to the law enforcement authority asking them to be humane towards the young men.
“The Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan has turned to the law enforcement asking to be humane towards the KBTU student Ayan Zhardemov who tried to pass the UNT instead of a high school graduate of the Maktaarlask district in South Kazakhstan Oblast. Considering his academic performance at the university and motives behind the illegal act, the Ministry is ready to organize volunteering work for the student for pedagogical purposes as an alternative to the punishment," the Ministry's press office said.
But not everyone buys the story about a romantic boyfriend wanting to help his girlfriend. Reporters of the informburo.kz new portal ompared the photo of the young man with the photo of a tutor listed on the tutor database website. The news portal claims that Zhardemov might have done it to earn some money and not help his alleged girlfriend. So the story of the illegal romantic could turn into a whole different narrative.
As for the high school graduate, she will have to take the UNT next year.
This year, the National Testing in Kazakhstan has seen some outrageous cases of cheating. The UNT was organized at 48 places. 18 889 high school graduates out of 19 743 applicants have already taken the test. The Ministry of Education and Science reported confiscating 7725 prohibited items such as mobile phones, cameras, calculators, cheat notes and others.
The average score was 79.7. 18.4% of high school graduates who took part in the UNT did not pass earning less than 50 points. 18.1% got over 100 points. A high school graduate from Taraz Gulnaz Yerdosova has the only one so far to earn 125 out of 125 possible points at the UNT this year.
In addition to petty cheating cases, the Ministry of Education and Science reported discovering a group of straw men who pretended to be high school graduates. The Almaty Department of the National Security Committee (NSC) detained a 23 y.o. man who was allegedly looking for possible straw men for the UNT. As a result, 18 impersonating high school students trying to pass the UNT were detained arrested. According to Kairzhan Kamzayev of the Almaty NSC, the fee for such services ranges from $2500 to $3000. The investigation continues.