Egypt school exam cheats jailed

A04981816.jpgA court in the Egyptian town of Minya has jailed 14 people for their involvement in a plot to leak details of important high school exam papers.

The man described as the ringleader – who heads the local examination board – was sentenced to 15 years.

Thirteen other people were jailed for between three and 10 years.

Hundreds of thousands of pupils sit the exam every year, but officials said the majority were not affected and the problem was limited to Minya.

Correspondents say the Thanwiya Amma exams – Egypt’s equivalent of A-levels or SATs – can determine the future course of a child’s life.

Court officials said the accused had “organised leaks, which damaged the principle of equality of opportunity between pupils” in the subjects of mathematics and English.

When the scandal first broke in June it caused outrage in Egypt and prompted questions in parliament.

Minya Examinations Committee head Ezzat Khalil Mansour was sacked from his job as well as receiving the heaviest punishment.

His associate Ayman Rabie was jailed for 10 years for purchasing exam papers and selling them on.

Four other accused, including a policeman and a headmaster, were jailed for seven years and received fines.

Others, including parents who bought exam papers, were jailed for between three and five years.

Correspondents say corruption is rife in parts of the Egyptian administrative system and assurances that the cheating scandal had only affected Minya province were met with scepticism.

There have been calls for all 800,000 pupils who sat the exam this year to be re-tested with new papers.

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