CAIRO: Efforts by the Education Ministry to stop high-profile exam leaks on Facebook appear to be ineffective as dedicated pages continue to publish the tests with model answers before the exam.
Weeks before the exams began, the ministry announced the introduction of new measures to prevent cheating inside classrooms. The new measures include the use of “electronic rods” to ban mobile access; however some students reportedly used their phones to respond to Facebook leaks during the exams.
A total of 12 officials from the Education Ministry were detained Monday pending investigations into the exam leaks. Security bodies announced Monday that they arrested the administrator of the “Shawmeng” Facebook page that has been leaking the exams. Two more students believed to be involved in the leaks were arrested Tuesday.
However, at 9 a.m. Tuesday the Facebook page “Shawmeng cheating Thanawyea Amma” started posting screenshots of what they claimed to be the English exam that Thanaweya Amma (high school diploma) students were scheduled to take later that day.
The page, which has around 630K followers, said late Sunday that it has three different English exams with model answers: “We will confirm which one is going to be the test and will post it [on social media] 40 minutes before the exam begins… so the ministry does not prepare an alternative.”
Meanwhile, many students have called for protests Tuesday against the exam leaks and the “loose monitoring” inside exam classrooms. They demand that “strict rules” be employed to “guarantee the principle of equal opportunities among students,” Youm7 quoted some high school students Tuesday before their exam.
The leaks have triggered a backlash on social media against the “failure” of the ministry to secure high profile exams, according to some social media accounts.
In a video that has been shared 13,000 times, high school student Marie Therese described the “injustice” caused by the leaks saying that some students “study very hard the whole year,” while others “do nothing but buy the exams and get high marks at the end.”
Many social media users have reported that the official “Shawmeng Helps High School Students Cheat” Facebook page has been closed.
On Sunday, Thanaweya Amma (high school diploma) tests kicked off across Egypt. The religion exam was leaked two hours before it was set to begin, causing its cancelation and postponement. The Arabic test was circulated on social media 30 minutes after it began nationwide.
The algebra exam of Thanaweya Amma of Al-Azhar schools was also leaked on Facebook pages.
Last year, the government introduced a law imposing prison sentences and fines ranging from 20,000 EGP ($2,200) to 30,000 EGP to deter the practice of leaking exams, which is considered a high-profile issue related to national security.
Accordingly, a number of students were arrested and accused of administering social media pages that leak exams. Some of the pages claimed they are leaking exams in reaction to the “corrupt educational system.”
An education ministry official told Youm7 that securing the transfer of high school exams is the duty of security bodies, adding that authorities “should look into allegations made by [Shawmeng Facebook page] that they spotted exam-loaded trucks coming out of the printing houses.”
More than 562,000 students will take final exams of Thanaweya Amma this year.
Thanaweya Ammaa is the gateway to universities, as each college accepts a student based on certain limits of his scores at the Thanaweya Amma standardized tests. Egyptian students view the Thanaweya Ammaa exams as a significant factor in determining their academic and professional careers.