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Kuwait students protest bid to eradicate cheating

Students protesting in front of the ministry. Al Jarida

Manama: Students in Kuwait angered by an education ministry decision to rein in rampant cheating in exams have staged a protest to demand its revocation.

Hamad Al Azmi, the education minister, had ordered the rotation of high school principals as a way to fight favouritism that allowed cheating to prosper and warned that students caught cheating in an exam would have to sit for new tests in all subjects.

However, around 150 students, reportedly supported by some activists and adults, assembled in front of the education ministry on Wednesday and called for the revocation of the decision.

They demanded that the principals keep their posts and that the harsher punishment for cheating be revoked.

Receiving a delegation of four students representing the protestors, Al Azmi said he would not recall the decision and that students should instead focus on their studies ahead of the exams.

He said that the decision to rotate principals was purely administrative and that they, as students, had nothing to do with it.

Al Azmi added that the new cheating rules applied mainly to those who used mobiles, earpieces and other transmitting devices and that they should not be concerned if they did not cheat.

“If any student feels he is being not fairly treated, he can take up his or her case with the school district and even with me. I will make sure that the situation is properly addressed.”

Despite the minister’s assurances, the students outside refused to call off the protest and claimed that the ministry was making “wrong decisions”.

Some students said that lawmakers should embrace their action and call for a debate at the parliament over the minister’s decision.

“The sit-in by the students was encouraged by some of the schools affected by the minister’s decision to rotate principals,” a ministry source told Kuwaiti daily Al Rai.

“The schools are known for easing cheating to allow students to pass.”

Schools with high passing figures are usually regarded as successful academically and administratively.

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