Why some countries are turning off the internet on exam days


AS LONG as there have been exams, students have found ways to cheat. Today the correct answers are just a few taps away on a smartphone. So countries have come up with new ways to stop the funny business. Some use metal detectors, surveillance cameras, mobile-phone jammers and even drones. Others have taken a more drastic step.

Cheating in high-school leaving exams got so bad in Mauritania and Algeria that this year the authorities turned off the internet for the entire country. Algeria did so for at least an hour during tests (which last about a week); Mauritania cut access from morning until evening on exam days. Other countries, such as Iraq, Uzbekistan and Ethiopia, have for years been shutting down the internet during exam time.

In each country students are under enormous pressure to do well in the tests, which often determine whether they can continue their education at a good university. A splendid grade may mean a scholarship abroad. But high marks are rare. In Algeria…

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