Teachers arrested for exam fraud

2nd July 2004 at 01:00

Six senior education ministry officials and seven school teachers in Jordan have been arrested and charged with organising the sale of baccalaureate exam papers. Their detention was announced after an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss how to deal with the scandal.

Up to 105,000 students graduating from secondary school will now have to re-sit the tawjihi exam after new questions have been set.

Papers in English, chemistry and physics were selling on the streets of the capital, Amman, and other cities for up to pound;800 each.

Jordan's education minister Khaled Tuqan initially denied the allegations, but was forced to postpone the exams after the head of the country's anti-corruption squad, Colonel Mosleh al-Kayed, told state television that further investigation had "proven that questions have been leaked".

Zeinab Chalabi, 18, is hoping to go to university to study dentistry. She was about to start her fourth exam paper when the government announced that students would have to re-sit them all a week later.

"It was a huge psychological blow for us all, after months of hard work," said her father.

For the Chalabi family and scores like them, not to mention teaching staff, the scandal has disrupted plans for the summer.

But government spokesman Asma Khodr urged "parents and students to understand this decision, which is aimed at protecting the credibility of official diplomas, and combating corruption".

Exam fraud on this scale is unprecedented in Jordan and has caused public outrage. It has also alarmed the government. Prime Minister Faisal Fayez personally intervened to ensure that security was increased for the re-sits, dispatching a policeman to every education directorate in the kingdom and increasing the number of invigilators for every exam.

The scandal has prompted calls for a thorough review of the kingdom's education sector in order to restore public confidence.

A cartoon in the Jordanian daily Al Dustur showed one bewildered child saying to another: "How are they going to educate us when there are some senior officials in the ministry who need to be taught a lesson?"

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