O-level and A-level exams in Tanzania have been cancelled following the theft and widespread leakage of the question papers.
Now the 55,000 candidates who were to sit their exams this month must wait until the new year.
Education and culture minister Professor Juma Kapuya, who was ordered home from an official visit to Paris to deal with the crisis, blamed education officers, teachers and corrupt staff of the national examinations council. "The business of selling examination papers has become a hot cake in Tanzania, " he told jeering MPs.
Police have arrested several suspects, and said "leakage" was widespread in most secondary schools in the capital, Dar-es-Salaam, where test papers were sold for Pounds 5 to Pounds 10.
The crisis started when thieves broke into a school office in the remote Rukwa district in south-west Tanzania and made off with test papers in history, geography, Kiswahili, English, physics, chemistry and mathematics.The papers were faxed to other parts of the country by a syndicate of education officers, teachers and staff of the Examinations Council, police said. But papers other than those stolen at Rukwa school were also involved.
"We cannot also rule out conspiracy between some teachers and villagers to improve the level of performance of the school," said Akubakar Rajabu, permanent secretary in the ministry of education.
The fiasco has cost the government Pounds 265,000, but the cost of restaging the exams may cost triple that due to the expense of boarding candidates for two months, as parents have been assured they will not have to pay extra fees.
Developing education, page 16