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Testing Agency denies involvement
The National Educational Assessment and Examinations Agency (NEAEA) said that it had not entered into any discussions with Ethio-telecom officials about shutting down the Internet to prevent exam theft during the ongoing 10th and 12th grade national exam.
After the Internet shut down rumors spread that the shutdown occurred to prevent the theft of exam papers and their posting on social media.
Last year the English exam for 12 Grade was stolen which forced the government to stop the exams and postpone them for one month. It also cost half a million birr.
After the theft occurred last year the government blocked the Internet while the students retook the exams. This year the Internet shutdown occurred right before 10th grade students started exams, although no tangible exam paper theft has occurred in Ethiopia this year.
According to Redi Sheffa, public relation head of NEAEA the agency did not order Ethio- telecom to shut down the Internet for exams.
“Our job is to prepare exams and to distribute them to their stations. We do not have the mandate to order or to block the Internet and as far as I know we have not had any discussions with telecom officials about the Internet shut down. We can’t order them to do anything.”
However Mohammed Seid public relations director of Ethiopia’s Office for Government Communications Affairs, told Reuters that “The shutdown is aimed at preventing a repeat of leaks that occurred last year.”
“We are being proactive. We want our students to concentrate and be free of the psychological pressure and distractions that this brings.”
Mohammed did not give a precise date regarding when the shutdown would be lifted, but added it would last throughout the exam period, according to Reuters.
Capital asked Redi if there had been any exam paper theft during the process of transporting, printing and packaging.
“No! We have not seen any theft! Some people told us that exams were stolen and seen on facebook a week ago but these reports are false, they were just Photoshopped exams from previous years and not the real exams,” he said.
He added that the agency prepared well before the exams were distributed to regional exam stations.
“This year we followed new procedures, we had regional national exam representatives come to Addis Ababa and transport the exams with their own vehicles. Previously they were handled by private transport companies which were selected by the agency. We also changed the packaging materials from postal paper to plastic to make them harder to steal.”
He added that the agency will give out a report about the national exams after they are finished.
This year a total of 1.2 million students are taking the 10th grade national exam and 288,000 students of 12th Grade are expected to take them this Monday through Wednesday.