Algeria switches off internet connections nationwide during high school exams

Algeria has turned off its internet nationwide during high school exams in a bid to tackle cheating

The government, besides planning internet blackouts which are likely to continue till Monday, has initiated a series of steps to prevent almost 70,000 diploma students from cheating during the exams.

The 2016 exam season was marred by widespread cheating, with exam questions published on social media before or at the start of the test.

The whole nation of Algeria went offline on Wednesday for the start of high school exams, the first in a series of internet blackouts to stop the possibility of students cheating.

Nobody will be able to get online - via their mobile phone, tablet or computer for an hour after the start of each high school diploma exam to stop any leaks.

Nouria Benghabrit, Algeria's education minister, told Algerian newspaper Annahar that Facebook also would be blocked across the country through the entire week of exams, the BBC reported.

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She says she's "not comfortable" with the decision, but says "we should not passively stand in front of such a possible leak".

Surveillance cameras and devices to jam mobile phones have also been installed at printing presses that publish the exam, Benghabrit said, in an effort to keep the test under wraps until it hits students' desks.

Just over 700,000 students will sit the high school certificate examinations over the next week, with results expected from July 22.

Last year, authorities requested operators shut down access to social media, but the move did not entirely end the problem. Back in August 2014, the government of Uzbekistan shut down internet services in the country for a period of five hours to prevent test takers from cheating in university entrance exams.

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