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Egypt high school exams leaked on social media

School boys in Cairo, Egypt on 27 January 2014 [Sebastian Horndasch/Flickr]
School boys in Cairo, Egypt on 27 January 2014 [Sebastian Horndasch/Flickr]

Excerpts of some of Egypt’s national high school exams were leaked on social media on Tuesday, the latest in a series of attempts by students to release questions from upcoming test papers.

The head of the General Education Sector at the Ministry of Education Reda Hegazy said that nine cases of cheating had been discovered during a Physics exam, with at least one of perpetrators having been identified, as well as seven other cases in a History exam.

This is not the first time this year that students have attempted to leak exam papers. Earlier this month, the high school French language paper was found to have been leaked on social media. A week before, Arabic and Religious Studies papers were reported to have been distributed online, however ministry officials later claimed that it had only been released after the exam had taken place.

A day later, a paper rumoured to be the Economy and Statistics exam was circulated on the Internet, before the exam board confirmed that it was in fact a paper from last year.

The Ministry of Education has faced heavy criticism over the past two years over exam regulation, as leaked papers have become more common. Students are often found using their mobiles in the exam room, and upload photos or excerpts of the questions to social media, distributing the material using popular hashtags.

Read: Egypt targets bloggers, social media users in new draft law

Whoever publishes the questions or answers of the exams at any schooling stage is liable to be given a prison sentence ranging between two to seven years, and a fine no less than 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($5,593). The government has also attempted to block popular Facebook pages where students share test papers.

But the recent leaking of exam papers has not been solely attributed to students; teachers and officials regulating examinations have also been arrested on suspicion of accepting bribes to allow students to leak the questions.

Reports in recent years have also suggested that university students are often paid by high schoolers to sit the papers for them, often using fake identity cards, to help them get the grades they need for further study.

The country’s exams are set to end on the July 1.

The challenge of regulating exams has been felt across the North African region, with Algeria announcing earlier this week, that it would be shutting down all internet servers in the country for an hour after the start of each exam in an attempt to combat cheating. Facebook has also been blocked for the entirety of the exam period.

“We are not comfortable with the decision to cut the internet, but we should not passively stand in front of such a possible leak,” Minister of National Education, ‎Nouria Benghabrit said.

Read: Thousands of prisoners to tackle Baccalaureate exams in Algeria

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