Algeria’s decided that education is important enough to shut down the internet nationwide for an hour a day between June 20 and 25. Additionally, Facebook will be blocked during the entire duration of the exam period. The move is being done in order to ensure that high schoolers don’t cheat during their national high school exams, called the baccalaureate.
Education minister Nouria Benghabrit said that they are “not comfortable” with turning the internet off, but “we should not passively stand in front of such a possible leak,” according to the BBC. Benghabrit is alluding to incidents in 2016 and 2017 when students leaked the national exam questions online. In 2016, the leak led to over 500,000 students retaking the test.
And that’s not all. Security measures are being taken at the exam printing presses, too. Surveillance cameras and cellphone jammers were put in place to catch any potential leakers. Also, students and staff must successfully walk through a metal detector before entering the exam halls. And at the approximately 2,000 exam halls that will be used by over 700,000 high schoolers, cellphone jammers will be installed, reported the ABC. Lastly, all devices are banned from the halls.
Officials are also paying extra attention to banning social media outlets, which are an effective way for people to communicate quickly and discreetly.
And along with all of the bans, cellphone jammers, and surveillance tools, the entire country will need to deal with one hour of no internet. The internet will be unavailable for the first hour of each baccalaureate exam.
The practice of shutting down the internet nationwide has been employed by Ethiopia, Iraq, and Uzbekistan. In all three instances, the temporary ban on the internet was to curb potential cheating during school exams.
Although some countries have successfully turned the internet off for short periods of time, Business Insider speculated that if America’s internet went down for whatever reason, the consequences would be far-reaching. From military, financial, utility grids and more, the results could be disastrous.
Students attempting to leak and cheat on important exams is a problem worldwide. In the United States, the maker of the ACT exams was forced to cancel a test date in September when someone leaked test information at their overseas testing centers, reported Reuters.
Similarly back in 2016, the SAT exam was the target of a “massive” leak of hundreds of its exam questions. James Wollack from the University of Wisconsin said that “everyone will pull out all stops to try to compromise this test,” adding that the leaks were “very alarming, very concerning indeed.”