Thanawya Amma final exams kick off amid measures to curb mass cheating
Group of students revise their lessons before their final exam - YOUM7 ( Archive )

CAIRO: The Thanawya Amma (high school diploma) exams kicked off across Egypt Sunday amid the Education Ministry’s high precautionary measures to curb leaking exam papers with the help of high-tech gadgetry; a mass cheating phenomenon that has been on the rise recently.

More than 562,000 students will take the final exams this year over the next four weeks. Metal detectors were used at schools and testing rooms to search students before entering the exam, to make sure that they have no smart phones or Bluetooth earphones, Youm7 reported.

During the security lapse following the January 25 revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak, several examination papers were leaked on social networking websites. Students usually sneak their mobile phones into testing rooms and use them to take photos of the exam sheets during the first 15 minutes or so before sending them through Facebook and Twitter and receive answers.

In order to curb the phenomenon, a law, imposing prison sentences and fines ranging from 20,000 EGP ($2,200) to 30,000 EGP, was issued last year to deter those who leak exams either through printing, broadcasting or any other means of publication.

In the past two years, several Facebook pages were created to help the Thanaweya Amma students to cheat through leaking the exams and answers.

This year, the pre-university exams coincide with the holy month of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.

The Education Ministry said in a statement Monday that it has provided the testing rooms with fans, cold water and good lightning to ensure that students would be comfortable.

It also said it has provided generators in case of power cuts and has coordinated with health ministry to provide schools with doctors, medicines and ambulances for emergency cases.

The success rate among Thanawya Amma (high school diploma) students rose by 2.8 percent during 2014-2015 academic year registering 79.4 percent compared to 76.6 percent last year, Education Minister Moheb el-Rafie said in a press conference Tuesday.

The Thanawya Amma represents the bottleneck for joining a university as its result determines the career of every student; thus parents often hire private tutors to prepare for the exams.

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