Egypt’s education minister told parliament Saturday that he requested the Internet be disconnected in the country an hour before high school exams, to prevent online cheating, but his request was denied.
Minister El-Hilali El-Sherbini said his request was deemed against the law and the constitution, and thus the education ministry attempted to find other methods to prevent cheating, state news agency MENA reported.
These methods include using cell phone jammers to disrupt cell phone signals inside classrooms. But officials found it unfeasible, as it would cost around EGP150 million.
The minister was speaking in front of parliament after the test papers for several subjects of the Thanaweya Amma (General Secondary) high school exams were leaked online last week.
The leaks prompted officials to cancel the religious studies exam Sunday as well as to investigate possible leaks from within the ministry.
El-Sherbini defended his ministry, saying they have been making efforts since February to prevent exam leaks.
The ministry conducted a study, according to the minister, with finding stating that it is hard to completely eliminate online cheating.
He added that the ministry cancelled a number of examination venues known for group cheating in the past year, and instead referred students to other secure locations to sit their exams.
The minister also said that exam papers have been transported to a number of governorates using military aircraft and that the interior ministry have been securing the transfer of exam papers by road.
Around 600,000 students are sitting the exams this year. The Thanaweya Aama exams are a do-or-die for Egyptian high school students, since the outcome dictates who among them goes on to what college, if any.
Last week, a number of Facebook admins were arrested on charges of leaking the exams online, while 12 education ministry officials are also being investigated in connection to the exam leaks.
The 12 officials are reported to be employees in the printing houses the education ministry assigned to print the exam papers, or in the ministry's examinations centre.
Meanwhile, head of parliament’s education committee, Gamal Sheha, told MENA that the majority of parliamentarians were angered and shocked by the exam leaks and that their anger is a reflection of feelings on the Egyptian street.
Sheha added that the current examination system is “outdated” and that the exams, evaluations and university acceptance criteria have to be changed.
“The current system is a remnant from the first half of the 20th century and no country still applies it,” he stated.