Egypt's education ministry has announced new amendments to a law toughening penalties for cheating and other violations during nationwide school exams, following repeated incidents of online leaking of exam answers over the past year.
The new amendments, which were ratified by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi last week, are intended to combat all violations during exams and firmly control the examination process across Egyptian schools, according to a statement released by the ministry on Monday.
The new amendments punish with two to seven years in jail and a fine of EGP 100,000 to 200,000 anyone who "prints, publishes, broadcasts or promotes exam questions and answers by any means," the statement read.
The penalties are imposed whether the violation is made before or during the exams with the aim of "cheating and undermining the social order of examinations in or outside exam rooms."
Students who cheat, attempt to cheat or commit any violation stated in the law will be banned from all exams, according to Reda Hegazy, head of the public education sector, as quoted in the statement.
Students were previously punished only by being barred from the exam in which they were cheating or attempting to cheat.
The new sanctions will be imposed only on cases that occurred after El-Sisi's ratification of the law on 15 June, head of the ministry's legal affairs department Alaa Eid told Al-Ahram Arabic.
Last year, several thanaweya amaa exams -- Egypt's standardised high school final exams -- were leaked online, prompting officials to cancel, void or postpone some exams and to investigate possible leaks from within the education ministry.
Several alleged administrators of a number Facebook pages that leaked questions and answers were arrested at the time.
The leaks sparked public anger at the government's perceived inefficiency.
The results of the Thanaweya Amaa exams, taken in the final year of high school, determine students' college destinations and subject choices.
Around 500,000 students sit the tests every year.