CAIRO: Some 26 Egyptian high school students were arrested a week ago in Sudan, but this number is not yet confirmed, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zaid told The Cairo Post Monday.
A diplomatic source at the Egyptian embassy in Khartoum told Youm7 that 32 Egyptians were arrested by the Sudanese national security, including students and their parents, on grounds of cheating and leaking high school exams.
The arrest of the Egyptian students followed the detention of students from other nationalities, who were accused of buying the exams, Abu Zaid said.
He added that no charges were filed against the Egyptians so far.
Abu Zaid said that the Egyptian authorities are following up on the case closely with their Sudanese counterparts to release the students.
On the other hand, Mohamed Helmy, a student’s relative, told The Cairo Post Monday that the number of the arrested students in Sudan is 55.
Mohamed Gomaa, 14 yrs, is a third secondary student who is studying in Khartoum; he was arrested March 21 from outside his school after taking his exam, said his Uncle Helmy.
Helmy said parents’ efforts to contact the Egyptian embassy in Khartoum were not successful, saying that the whereabouts of their sons are unknown since their arrest. He also claimed that their colleagues from other nationalities, including Jordanians, were deported.
He denied the accusations as ‘illogical,’ saying “How come they leaked the exams? If true, then who should be responsible for that? The students?”
Another student, El-Shemary was taken from home, and his father who is also in Sudan was arrested later without disclosed reasons, his uncle Saeed told ONTV channel Monday.
Saeed said that the Sudanese Education Ministry officially denied any leaking, then “why are they in custody?”
Both Gomaa and Shemary come from Delta’s Kafr el-Sheikh governorate, seeking to obtain the high school degree.
At least 22 of the detained students are coming from the governorate, according to Helmy. Hundreds of students from the governorate have reportedly traveled to Sudan seeking to obtain the high school degree over the past years.
The phenomenon has been suspected by the Education Ministry in Egypt, which discovered that many of those who receive the high school degree from Sudan and apply for universities in Egypt have already received the degree in Egypt.
The Egyptian High school, in Arabic “Thanawya Amma,” is the students’ gate to universities, as the scores gained on this year determine their future faculties. Medicine, Pharmacy and Engineering are among the top universities that require high scores exceeding 95 percent.
Last year, a presidential decree was issued to impose a punishment of one year in prison and a fine on those who leak exams, following the arrest of a number of students over allegedly being members of Facebook pages that leaked almost all final exams of different school grades.
It has been believed that receiving higher scores from Sudan is much easier, which prompted many to spend the study year there, as a condition set by the Egyptian universities to accept equivalent degrees of Thanawya Amma from other countries.
In an interview last year with Dar Akhbar el-Youm, Minister of Higher Education Ashraf el-Shehy said that “manipulation” committed by some students who receive Sudanese high school degree will be “controlled.”
Shehy noted that those who had already the degree from Egypt and sought another degree to improve their scores will be referred to prosecution, as this way they are unfairly taking others’ places at top universities.