Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A Step Too Far?

After my first visit to China 15 years ago, and seeing the rapid development in the cities of Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Shanghai, I remember thinking that learning Cantonese or Mandarin would begin to displace Spanish, French, and German as offered languages in middle and high schools within our lifetime.

With the relocation of customer service departments to India ("my name is Ramesh, what is the serial number on the back of your computer?"), most people have experienced (but not accepted) the outsourcing of back-office and customer support functions to these developing countries.

But maybe the Brits have taken things a step too far. They've outsourced a teaching function, and not by importing the teachers. They ship the papers overseas to be graded:
In a new twist in the debate over outsourcing, some half a million exam papers from Britain's main secondary school leaving certificate are to be graded in India to save money.

Papers for Britain's key GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) exams are to be sent to India for marking in a controversial move to cut costs.

Papers for Britain's key GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) exams are to be sent to India for marking in a controversial move to cut costs.

So not only will Ramesh help to diagnose that spyware that's infected your hard drive, he'll also be grading the final exams of British school kids.

Now I've found that doing business with Indians can be a delightful experience, but, for the sake of the British schoolkids whose future lies in his hands, I hope Ramesh has learned that the "V" is not pronounced like a "W".