Arrests and leaked questions tarnish end-of-year exams in Egypt

Arrests and leaked questions tarnish end-of-year exams in Egypt
Rampant cheating and leaked questions have plagued final school exams in many countries in the Middle East, with Egypt faring the worst this year.
3 min read
14 Jun, 2015
Egyptian Students review before their exams begin [Al-Araby al-jadeed]

Local media in Egypt have reported that police detained two students for allegedly running Facebook pages that leaked. The arrests come amid the usual reports of wide-spread cheating. 

Police say they arrested two administrators of several popular Facebook groups that have published questions and answers to secondary school final exams, which began nationwide last Saturday.  

The questions and answers to the mandatory Arabic exam were released online 45 minutes into the three-hour test.  While in the English test, it took just 17 minutes into the exam for the answers to be posted on social media.

Students are strictly prohibited from taking mobile communication devices such as mobile phones into examination halls. The penalty for breaking this rule is severe and irrevocable:  automatic disqualification.

However, stating the rule is one thing, enforcing it is another challenge altogether in is in overcrowded and often chaotic examination rooms.

The ministry of education works closely with the police  to secure vehicles delivering test papers to schools and on preventing enthusiastic parents from congregating outside schools and college gates, but social media and the ubiquity of smart phones have made cheating even easier than before. 

The thanaweya amma exams are the final stage of secondary school education in Egypt and serves as the entrance examination for public universities. Students face immense pressure to do well in the highly competitive exams. But the poor standards of public education in Egypt, many parents spend thousands of Egyptian pounds on private tutoring to ensure their children are accepted into the best public universities do well in highly sought after courses such as medicine, engineering, pharmacy and political science. 

      Students must do well to gain places in public Universities [Al-Araby al-Jadeed]

This year, a creative English language teacher rented out an outdoor movie theatre to hold revision sessions for more than 1,000 students at a time.

But Egypt was not the only country in the region to have suffered from wide-spread cheating and leaked papers; in Morocco for example,  the government has decided to re-run the final maths test after it was put up online before it even began. Similar incidents have also been reported in Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania and Jordan. 

Social media
Parents and Students used an Arabic hashtag and name of a popular Facebook exam leaking group #Cheating_ Guerrillas.

Eman al-Khatib wrote on Twitter:

Translation: Just as students have been banned from having mobile phones exam observers should also be banned from having them. Actually it would just be safer to take the whole internet down during exams as long as we can’t get them under control.
While Ahmad al-Sayed was cynical:

Translation: Do you think if you cheat you can become a doctor or an engineer!? Actually yeah to be honest you can become a doctor or an engineer, hell you can even become a minister or the president, it’s Egypt after all.

University student Shimaa wrote:

Translation: You’re tell me you took you phone out, took a picture of the exam, went on Twitter, typed in the hashtag and then posted the picture without anyone noticing! What kind of madness is this?
And Dina Ali tweeted:

Translation: I hope to God no one who cheated passes. You guys are wasting the efforts of the students who have studied and worked hard all year long.