Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1262, (10 - 16 September 2015)
Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Issue 1262, (10 - 16 September 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Zero student retested

The zero student has been summoned before a judicial counterfeiting and forgery committee to recheck her handwriting, reports Mohamed Abdel-Baky

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Al-Ahram Weekly

The general prosecutor has ordered forensics to recheck the exam papers of a thanaweya amma (12th grade high school) student who received zero in all her final exams, a case that caused nationwide debate and raised questions about possible corruption in the public education system in Egypt.

Mariam Malak, a student from the southern governorate of Minya, is accusing Education Ministry officials of swapping her answer sheets with those of another student.

On Sunday, the deputy of the Egyptian prosecutor Ali Omran ordered the Assiut governorate prosecutor to form a committee from the Forensic Medicine Authority (FMA) consisting of five forensic specialists from the Department of Counterfeiting and Forgery at the FMA to recheck Malak’s handwriting and match it with her answer sheets this year as well as the past five years.

Upon her arrival at the FMA headquarters in Cairo Tuesday morning, Malak told the media that she was confident justice would prevail.

“I was summoned today to the FMA to give a handwriting sample for the FMA committee. What happened was not real. My academic record in elementary and high school is free of any zeros,” she said in front of the FMA headquarters.

The counterfeiting and forgery committee on Tuesday asked Malak to write answers to experimental questions in seven courses, the same courses she took this year in high school. The subjects included Arabic and English, physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics. The student spent three hours with the committee which is to refer its report to the prosecutor general’s office in a few days.

“I have had an excellent academic record since elementary school. I am not leaving Egypt to study abroad. I am staying here to get my rights and fulfil my dream,” Malak said on Tuesday.

This was not the first time the forensic authority steps into the case. On 29 August, FMA spokesman Hisham Abdel-Hamid announced that after an FMA handwriting expert from Assiut dictated to Malak, it was proven that her handwriting matches that of the existing answer papers, which are supposed to be hers.

However, Malak’s lawyer contested the FMA Assiut branch report and accused the Ministry of Education of providing the expert with the answer sheets of another student. The lawyer filed a complaint to the prosecutor general’s office to re-examine Malak’s answer sheet before a committee at FMA headquarter in Cairo.

On 1 September Malak met Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb who reportedly told her that her rights are guaranteed by the state.

“I will support her till the last moment. I and the whole country will support you and get your rights,” Mehleb told Malak who expressed her gratitude for Mehleb’s support. “After meeting with the prime minister, I felt that I am living in a nation that upholds justice,” she said.

Malak, however, refused to meet Egyptian Christian Orthodox Pope Tawadros II who asked to meet her to show support for her case.

“My sister is facing a crime of forgery not because she is Christian but because she is an Egyptian citizen,” Mina Malak, the student’s brother, said. “That is why we will never meet any religious symbol, but we pay full respect to the pope who stands with all Egyptian citizens all the time.”

Mina, a dentist, 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 Mina 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.

Education Minister Moheb Al-Rafei stated in a press conference last week 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 Malak’s case was not the only one. “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, earlier said Malak would have to re-sit the thanaweya amma exams during the next academic year “if she wants to join university”.

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