Education minister to penalize Blackberry cheaters on nationwide exams

No instances of cheating with Blackberry mobile phones were detected during Tuesday’s nationwide calculus test, part of the thanaweya amma exams whose grades determine which public universities Egyptian students apply to, according to the Education Ministry.

"Scrutiny has been tightened and students are barred from taking their mobile [phones] inside exam rooms," said Reda Mossad, the ministry’s general supervisor for the thanaweya amma exams.

Over the past few days, news outlets have reported that four students had been arrested for using Blackberries to circulate answers to the important exams, which began on Saturday.

Mossad’s deputy, Mahmoud Nada, said that within hours Education Minister Gamal al-Araby would decide what to do with the students caught cheating. Nada said the students could be forced to repeat the school year.

On Monday, Araby admitted that questions for the English language test were leaked 30 minutes ahead of the exam time. In a phone call to Al-Hayat satellite channel, he denied any wrongdoing by the ministry, saying that some students took photos of the answers on their Blackberries and then shared them with others.

He explained that though the device is prohibited inside exam rooms, some students manage to smuggle it in by hiding it in their clothes.

Araby said he had asked the Communications and Information Technology Ministry if it could scramble Blackberry transmissions inside exam rooms, and was told such a move would be impossible.
The minister added that the Interior Ministry has been informed of the incident to track the main source of the answers leak.
Edited translation from MENA

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