Sunday,19 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1261, (3 - 9 September 2015)
Sunday,19 August, 2018
Issue 1261, (3 - 9 September 2015)

Ahram Weekly

The zero student

The student who got a zero in all her final exams insists that her papers were exchanged, while the Forensic Medicine Authority says the handwriting in the exam papers matches hers. Reem Leila reports on the mystery grade

Al-Ahram Weekly

Mariam Malak Zekri is a thanaweya amma student who received a zero in all the final exams she took this year.

When the results of the high school or thanaweya amma exams were announced in July, and with them Zekri’s failing grades, her family filed a complaint to the general prosecution asking that the case be investigated, insisting that their daughter’s answer sheets got mixed up with those of another student. Zekri, a student at Saft Al-Khemar in Upper Egypt’s Al-Minya governorate, had always been a top student.

On Tuesday, Zekri met with Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb and he reportedly told her that her rights are guaranteed by the state. “He is patient and will support her till the last moment. I and the whole country will bolster you and get your rights back,” Mehleb told Zekri.

Zekri expressed her gratitude for Mehleb’s support. “After meeting with the prime minister, I felt that I am living in the nation that upholds justice,” she said.

The general prosecution requested Zekri’s answer papers from the Ministry of Education. It then referred the papers to the Forensic Medicine Authority (FMA) which requested Zekri’s answer papers of the last two years to undergo a match analysis of her handwriting.

On 29 August, FMA spokesman Hisham Abdel-Hamid announced that after a handwriting expert from the authority dictated to Zekri, it was proven that her handwriting matches that of the existing answer papers, which are supposed to be hers. Accordingly, the general prosecution ordered that Zekri’s case be dropped. Education Minister Moheb Al-Rafei stated that Zekri had no choice but to take the exams again next year.

Zekri could not believe what she heard, went into hysterics and passed out.

Mina Malak Zekri, a dentist and the student’s brother, said his sister was a clever student throughout school. “She was among the top 10 students at the end of primary and preparatory stages. She got very high grades during the past two years, so how did she get zero in this year’s exams?” asked Zekri who added that after every exam, Mariam would review her answers with the teachers who confirmed to her that she could be among the top of this year’s thanaweya amma students.

Zekri, the brother who insisted the case was misjudged, rejected the forensic medicine report and said they will contest it. “We have also asked to meet President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, asking for intervention in the case,” Zekri stressed.

Zekri confirmed that until now the family did not receive any official report regarding the case. “We watched Abdel-Hamid announcing the results of his investigation during a talk show on a satellite channel,” he said.

Abdel-Hamid said experts at the FMA asked Mariam twice to write answers to the exam questions to match her handwriting with the existing answer papers. “After almost a month of thorough examination of the handwritings, experts proved that the handwriting on the exam papers matches that of Zekri’s own handwriting,” Abdel-Hamid said.
A few days later, Zekri was asked to write a few pages on all her seven subjects, in addition to English and French, so as to match her handwriting with those submitted to forensic medicine.

“The committee which examined Zekri’s handwriting comprised three veteran experts from the FMA. Handwriting analysis was repeated several times so as to make sure of the results. We are talking about a student’s future here,” Abdel-Hamid said.

Education Minister Al-Rafei stated earlier in a press conference that the ministry respects the country’s judicial system and will enforce its ruling as soon as it is issued. “If the student is proven innocent the ministry will apologise to her and will refer all perpetrators to the general prosecution for a criminal investigation,” Al-Rafei said.

At the same time, the minister said Zekri’s case is not alone. “There are 40 other similar cases, 33 of whom withdrew their complaints as soon as the investigations began,” Al-Rafei said.

Mohamed Saad, head of the thanaweya amma exams department, said Zekri would have to re-sit the thanaweya amma exams during the next academic year “if she wants to join university”.

The results of the FMA were criticised by many, including author Alaa Al-Aswani who tweeted, “It is the same authority that announced the death of Khaled Said, from an overdose of hash, which said that Zekri’s handwriting is identical to that of the existing answer paper.”

Said’s death in 2010, while in police custody, was one of the reasons which brought on the 2011 revolution which toppled the government.

Stage and screen actor Mohamed Sobhi, meanwhile, has offered to send Zekri abroad to finish her.

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