Exam paper leak update: parents, students stage protest

Dozens of high school students and their parents staged protests outside the Education Ministry Tuesday afternoon against the leakage of high school exam papers this week.

High school examinations started on Saturday for students in the old examination system, and on Sunday for those in the new system, and will continue for three weeks.

About 563,000 students around the country sit the final exams of their pre-university education over this period.

Since the start of this year's examination period, the official exam papers for Arabic, English and religion have been leaked online.

Parents protesting on Tuesday accused the ministry of poor effort to secure exams, saying that the money they have paid for private tutors, books and revision classes has gone wasted, as cheating has made the playing field level for all.

The protesters called on Prime Minister Sherif Ismail to override the admissions process for universities, which they fear will require high scores due to the exams leaks.

Meanwhile, South Cairo Prosecution released five members of the technical committee in charge of printing exams who had been detained over involvement in the exams leaks.

On Monday, the prosecution ordered the detention of 12 officials from the Education Ministry for 15 days pending investigations into the scandal.

In a repeat of Sunday's exam paper leak online, the Facebook page, "Shawming Byghashish Thanaweya Amma" (Shawming's cheats for high school exams) published on Tuesday morning a copy of the official high school English exam, just a few minutes after the exam started.
The page said it possessed all three copies of this year's English paper, boasting that the photocopied papers posted on the webpage were the genuine exams being sat by candidates on Tuesday. The page published model answers along with the questions.
The administrators of the cheat website claimed to have watched the secured Education Ministry vehicles transporting the exam papers from their secret printing house through Ramses Square at 6 a.m. on Tuesday.
The page, which has been aiding exam candidates to cheat for almost four years, called for reform in the education system in Egypt, a raise in teachers' salaries and acknowledgement of their rights.
The efforts of the Education Ministry and the police have so far failed to stop the culprits behind the page.
Prime Minister Sherif Ismail met with Education Minister al-Hilali al-Sherbini immediately after the English exam was leaked to discuss the incident.

Prior to Tuesday's leak, Sherbiny had instructed a team from the ministry’s Central Security department to secure the secret print house where the official public exams for this year's high school exam season are being printed. On Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Ismail paid a surprise visit to the team to follow up on their work.

In a statement on Monday, Sherbiny said that following the leak of several exams on Sunday, the public prosecutor was notified and investigations have begun, with particular attention to several suspected workers in the print house and some exam invigilators. They have been remanded in custody pending investigations.

He added that he has ordered for every possible security measure to be taken to guarantee that nothing affects investigations into the affair.

After the circulation of this year's religion paper online, the minister made the decision to cancel the exam on Sunday and reschedule it for June 29.

The ministry said it handled the issue transparently and acted with students' best interests at heart, looking to ensure justice and equality for all exam candidates. The public will be notified soon about developments and the outcome of the investigations.

More than 50 percent of teachers involved in the exam process have been changed. All suspicious websites are being monitored and the Interior Ministry has been notified about them.

“Despite all these measures, the ministry found out at 9 a.m. on Sunday that the content of the official high school Arabic exam had been circulated online, and again at 9:30 a.m. After comparing the answers provided by the websites to the questions, they were found to be the real answers for the questions,” the statement added.

At 10:30 a.m. the content of the religion exam was leaked, it added.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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