Friday,21 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1302, (30 June - 13 July 2016)
Friday,21 September, 2018
Issue 1302, (30 June - 13 July 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Non-stop leaks

Anger is roiling through schools and elsewhere as 12th-grade final exams continue to be leaked, reports Reem Leila

Al-Ahram Weekly

Those responsible for leaking 12th-grade public high school exams, the thanaweya amma, are challenging authorities by posting the exams online, immediately after exams start, and leaking answers during the exams.

Since the exams began on 5 June five exams have been leaked via Facebook and Twitter. Arabic, religion, thermodynamics and statistics were among the subjects leaked.

Following the leak of the Arabic-language exam on 5 June, the Ministry of Education declared that it had imposed strict measures on how the exams are to be sent to schools, and had also prepared alternative questions in case of more leaks.

Hundreds of thanaweya amma students demonstrated on 27 June in front of the Ministry of Education after Minister of Education Al-Helali Al-Sherbini announced the postponement of a number of exams after their questions were leaked. Security forces dispersed students with water cannons and tear gas. Angry students demonstrated for more than five hours, chanting slogans against the education minister, calling for his dismissal and accusing ministry officials of leaking the exams.

Monday’s demonstration marked the second day of student protest in front of the Education Ministry. Families of angry students have also rallied in front of the parliament building expressing their refusal to have exams repeated.

There were parallel protests in Alexandria, Tanta, Mansoura, Sharqiya and Ismailia. Students demanded the dismissal of the minister of education, the suspension of cancelled exams rather than repeating them and, in an unrelated issue, called for changing the system of university applications. Protesters want the eligibility criteria for entering universities to be based on skills rather than secondary-stage grades.

Students held banners stating that they won’t re-sit for the exams. “I will not retake any exam that was leaked,” said Mohamed Ahmed, a student. “It is not my problem. What happened is a clear failure by the Ministry of Education, and postponing exams is not the solution. Why don’t they use the alternate exam?”

The Ministry of Education cancelled the dynamics exam on 26 June after reports of online leaks. However, the decision came after students had already sat for the exam earlier in the morning. The ministry also decided to postpone exam dates of other subjects, including geology, history, mathematics and geometry. The exam on religion will be on 29 June as scheduled.

Education Ministry spokesman Bashir Hassan said the postponement is in favour of students, so that justice is realised among all students. “We are facing a group of criminals who are challenging all governmental institutions, not only a small number of people,” Hassan said, expressing his sympathy towards thanaweya amma students and their families while promising them and concerned authorities to put an end to the problem.

At the same time, it is impossible for education officials to distribute another alternative exam. “It takes a long time to distribute exams throughout all Egypt’s governorates. We use the alternative exam if we know about the leakage two or three days in advance. Hours is almost impossible,” said Hassan.

In response to student protests, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail met Al-Sherbini to discuss what the ministry intends to do, according to an official statement issued by the cabinet on 27 June.

“The decision to repeat some exams is meant to ensure equal opportunity among thanaweya amma students, so as not to waste the efforts of those who had studied hard throughout the year,” Ismail said in the statement.

The 600,000 thanaweya amma students who are sitting for the exams this year were scheduled to finish on 29 June but that has now been pushed to 4 July.

On 26 June the general prosecutor referred the case of the leaks to the High State Security Prosecution for further investigation. An investigation conducted by the general prosecution revealed that an official at the ministry’s printing house was reportedly responsible for the leak and is currently detained.

Thanaweya amma exam questions started being made public on 5 June, the first day of the exams. Meanwhile, parliament’s Education Committee said in an ‎urgent meeting on Monday that Al-Sherbini should resign after ‎failing to solve the problem.

Parliament’s Education Committee demanded that Al-Sherbini come to parliament and resign. Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said Al-Sherbini should attend ‎the committee’s meeting to defend himself.

“I know that ‎the exam leaks have left hundreds of families in Egypt ‎suffering from psychological pain and it is the ‎minister’s duty to come to parliament to respond to questions,” Abdel-Aal said.‎

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