Algeria Blocks Facebook, Other Social Media Sites To Stop Exam Cheats

Algeria Blocks Facebook, Other Social Media Sites To Stop Exam Cheats

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Thousands of high school students in Algeria needed to retake their baccalaureate exams on Sunday after test questions were leaked online. Authorities have temporarily blocked access to Facebook and Twitter to prevent cheats from posting test papers. 
( Justin Sullivan | Getty Images )

The advent of the internet has given cheating a new twist. Cheats now use social media sites such as Facebook to leak exams or share questions that appear in tests.

In Algeria, questions in tests that high school students need to take before they can enroll for higher education were posted online.

The leak has prompted authorities to require thousands of high school students to retake their final exams.

Algerian Minister of National Education Nouria Benghebrit said some students who have already taken the baccalaureate final exams need to take new tests on June 19 so they can be tested again for the seven exams that leaked online.

Authorities are also not taking chances, making sure that the cheating incident that has sparked outrage will not happen again.

On Sunday, state media revealed that authorities in the North African nation have temporarily blocked access to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to prevent cheats from posting exam papers online.



An official source told APS state news agency that the cut in social media is directly linked to the partial baccalaureate exams and was implemented to protect the students from “publication of false papers for these exams.” Internet access through 3G mobile networks also appeared to be disrupted on Sunday.

The APS reported that 555,177 students will retake the partial baccalaureate exams after some of the papers were leaked in the first session that was conducted from May 29 to June 2.

“All measures have been taken to ensure the smooth running of the exams, in collaboration with other sectors concerned, namely the National Police, National Gendarmerie, Civil Protection and Health,” the Ministry of National Education said.

Police have arrested dozens of individuals, including officials who work in national education offices and printers as part of the investigation on how parts of the exams were leaked to social media.

Police said that cybercrime investigators already identified those who published the exam materials on social networks and those who facilitated the leak.

Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal vowed to punish those behind the incident. Presidential chief of staff Ahmed Ouyahia, on the other hand, said that the incident is a plot against the education minister.

Benghebrit, who was appointed minister of education in 2014, angered conservatives by proposing to reform the education system.

Egypt is facing a similar problem. On Thursday, the Egyptian interior ministry said that it has arrested a student who moderates three Facebook pages that leak school exam papers.

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