Friday,24 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1308, (18 -24 August 2016)
Friday,24 May, 2019
Issue 1308, (18 -24 August 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Repeat Thanaweya amma leaks

As students prepare to re-sit exams, leaked papers appear online, Mai Samih reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

Re-sit Thanaweya amma Arabic exams were held on 13 August. A total of 7869 students retook the test, sitting the paper in 296 examination halls. Yet according to a Ministry of Education announcement within an hour of examinees taking their seats, a student from Kafr El-Sheikh directorate took a photo of the examination paper and posted it on the Facebook page Shawming beyghashesh Thanaweya amma 2017 (Shawming leaks Thanaweya amma exams 2017). A student was later questioned over the incident. Four other students were caught cheating, using mobile phones, in Kafr El-Sheikh, Zefta, Qelleen and Al-Hamoul directorates.

On Sunday the English examination paper was posted on Facebook ten minutes after the exam started, Al-Ahram reported.

"Strict penalties will be imposed on anyone involved in leaking examination papers,” Prime Minister Sherif Ismail told the press. The Ministry of Education also issued a warning that any individuals involved in cheating could face fines of up to LE 50,000.

"The leaking of exams is an old problem though this year it is taking place on an unprecedented scale,” chairman of the Teachers' Syndicate Khalaf Al-Zanati told Al-Ahram Weekly. “I have discussed the matter with the minister of education. It has reached the stage where cheating is tarnishing our reputation as a country.”

"The problem must be uprooted. Staff in charge of examination controls and those working at presses that print exams should be screened by the police. I also recommended to parliament's Education Committee that internet services be cut to schools in which examinations are taking place during the period of exams."

Al-Zanati also argues the leaking of exams should be made a criminal, rather than administrative, offence and there should be “harsh penalties against the perpetrators".

In June police arrested an 18-year-old student believed to be the administrator of three Facebook pages involved in posting examination papers as well as 12 officials from the Ministry of Education's printing houses in an attempt to put an end to the leaks, according to Cairo Scene newspaper.

"In the past we used to blame cheating on the negligence of the teacher invigilating the exam. Now it is advanced technology that causes many of the problems," says Ibrahim Shahin, a former head of the Education Committee at the Shura Council.

"It is the responsibility of the whole country, not just the Ministry of Education, to prevent leaks. The problem is with the choice of staff in charge of controlling the exams. It is not a fault of the educational system."

The Shawming Facebook includes a video post that states the aims of the page. They include improving the financial condition of teachers, developing the curriculum and reforming the university admissions system. The video, which has received 3,500 likes, also said that Shawming first appeared in 2012 to post examination papers and model answers ahead of exams.

"They claim to want to reform education but the fact is these Facebook leaks are unfair to all students who do work hard for their exams,” says one Thanaweya amma student.

Another student, Ahmed Tawfik, accuses "a member of the Muslim Brotherhood working in the Ministry of Education” of being behind the leaks.

“He wants to show the current government is no more competent than the Muslim Brotherhood was. I believe that he will get caught sooner or later," says Ahmed.

A study of possible educational reforms compiled by the Teachers' Syndicate argues that rather depending on end of year exams to grade students a process of continuous assessment should be introduced which would, by its very nature, put an end to cheating.

Shahin believes "we could put an end to this phenomenon by choosing more qualified members of staff to take over control ".

"The exam should not be with anyone except the person who prepared. It should be sent by e-mail and printed on the same day of the examination. Anyone involved in the leaking of exam papers should also face criminal prosecution. Students should be suspended for up to two years if they are found cheating and expelled from school if they were found to be running websites that leak exam questions."

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