Newspaper article International New York Times

Exam Leaks Embarrass Government in Egypt

Newspaper article International New York Times

Exam Leaks Embarrass Government in Egypt

Article excerpt

One test was canceled, and the Education Ministry, along with the police and military officers who guard the exams, faced a wave of criticism.

As Egyptian high school students take their final exams this month, the government is facing a wave of criticism and mockery after copies of at least two test papers -- and their answers -- were leaked on Facebook.

The leaks, which caused one of the tests to be canceled, have resulted in a barrage of criticism of the Education Ministry, as well as the police and military officers who guard the wax-sealed boxes that the exams are kept in before students take them.

The exams were leaked on a Facebook page by someone, or a group, called Chao Ming. (The reason for the Chinese-sounding name is unclear.) For the past four years, Chao Ming posted answers during testing, allowing cheating by students flouting a ban on cellphones. This year is believed to be the first time that Chao Ming has posted copies of the exams and answers before testing takes place. Chao Ming has spawned a host of imitators who use Facebook and other online platforms to help students cheat -- and taunt the authorities. Some of the sites say they are acting to embarrass the Education Ministry and to change the educational system in Egypt.

The scandal has highlighted disgruntlement with the declining quality of public education in Egypt but has also drawn contrasts between the government's bumbling efforts to stanch the leaks and its harsh crackdown on free speech and political freedoms in Egypt.

"The regime can't protect" a couple of papers, Mina Salib, a political activist in Alexandria, wrote in a Facebook post. "Excuse me, but how are they supposed to protect a country?"

About 570,000 Egyptian high school students are taking the exams, known as Thanaweya Amma tests, which determine admission to state- run universities. …

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