Algeria is Shutting Down its Internet to Stop Students Cheating on Their Exams


One of the biggest threat to the development of education in nowadays is the rate at which examination malpractice is gaining ground. Examination malpractice has been embraced by all and sundry (especially we Nigeria), people no longer see it as a crime any longer, both the old and young engage in the crime, people no longer see examination as what you can sit and pass on your own unless you are ‘helped’. This scourge is the order of the day in our primary, secondary, and tertiary institution.

The situation has become so bad that even in our national and local media people go to advertise ‘examination malpractice,’ you see schools calling on students to come and sit for exams in their schools and pass in one sitting.

The move follows a cheating epidemic among the 700,000 students who took Algeria’s leaving exams in 2016. Test questions hit the web before and during the exams, leading to several of them being declared void and 500,000 resits using new question papers. Thirty-one people were arrested, several of whom were education ministry employees.

The country has announced that both mobile and landline internet services will be turned off for an hour at the start of each high school diploma exam. There will be 11 blackouts, which started on Wednesday and will continue until June 25. Algeria is also blocking Facebook across the entire country during this period.

Algeria is not, however, the only country to take such radical steps during exam season: Syria, Iraq, Mauritania, Uzbekistan and several Indian states reportedly block access to the internet. Ethiopia shuts down social media.


Algerian internet users are not unused to poor service. According to by the specialist site Speedtest, the country’s average internet connection speed is the second slowest out of 135 regions surveyed, faster only than that of Venezuela.


A year later, the education ministry installed phone jammers in all the exam centers and blocked access to social media sites. Students who arrived late for the tests were banned from taking them and had to sit an alternative exam later. Despite these measures, some web-based cheating still occurred.
In addition to cutting off the internet during exam times, metal detectors are being used in the centers this year. Even school staff are banned from bringing in electronic devices with internet access. As an extra precaution, phone jammers and CCTV cameras have been installed at the exam’s printing presses.

Not surprisingly, many in Algeria are unhappy at the extreme measures. “It’s beyond ridiculous,” web designer Lyès Rekkeb told The Guardian. “Every kind of connection is affected – fixed, mobile, wifi, 3G … No one who uses the internet – travel agents, startups, transport firms, even some banks – can work.”

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