Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Exam cheats jailed in Cairo

Seems like Egypt has some of the problems that India does, but at least the guilty get punished unlike India where cases drag on in the courts for ages.

From http://www.iol.co.za/

Cairo - Fourteen Egyptians, including officials and parents, were jailed for up to 15 years on Monday for involvement in leaking secondary school exams in a scandal that has rocked the country.

A court in Menya, 240km south of Cairo, convicted the group for trying in June to cheat the dreaded "thanawiya amma" - Egypt's equivalent of A-levels or SATs - that largely determine a child's future.

The court found the accused guilty of "having organised leaks, which damaged the principle of equality of opportunity between pupils," in the English and maths sections of the exams, a judicial source said.

Ringleader Ezzat Khalil Mansour, head of Menya's Examinations Committee, was jailed for 15 years and sacked.

His friend Ayman Rabie was jailed for 10 years for having bought the exam papers for 300 Egyptian pounds and for subsequently selling them.

Four other accused, including a policeman and a headmaster, were jailed for seven years and fined 5 000 Egyptian pounds. The other accused, including parents who bought the leaked exam papers, were jailed for between three and five years.

Five suspects were acquitted, including the owner of a bookshop whose photocopier was used to copy the exams.

In a country rife with corruption where some 20 percent live below the poverty line, a university education, especially a degree in medicine or engineering, can help to break down rigid class barriers.

When the scandal broke in June, public prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmud said the problem was limited to Menya and did not affect the majority of the 800 000 pupils who took the exam nationwide.

That declaration was greeted with scepticism by many parents.

The case has gripped the nation, bringing together state and opposition media in a rare show of unity to demand answers. Columnists have demanded a re-sit, with teachers and academics supporting them.

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