Zero credibility

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BBC News today carries the story of Mariam Malak, The star pupil who scored zero in all her exams.

It seems that Mariam expected to score highly in Egypt’s high-school graduation exams. She had such a good record that she, her family, her school expected her to be among the country’s top-scoring students. She expected, and was expected, to score well enough to make it to medical school.

Instead of which, she managed to score a zero in all seven exams. It is pretty difficult to score a zero in one exam, never mind seven. According to the BBC report, “To get the minimum possible score, a pupil must more or less leave the paper blank.”

First thoughts, evidently, were that she had been discriminated against because she is a Coptic Christian in a Muslim country. Then corruption was suspected; now it seems likely that Mariam’s papers were switched with someone else’s papers, someone who had written out the questions – but nothing else. This seemed especially likely when a handwriting test showed that her handwriting did not match that on the papers which were alleged to be hers.

If so, this is a blatant travesty. And, when her story aired on national television, it emerged that she was not the only student with high expectations to score zeros.

Nasty.  One can only hope that justice is done, that these students somehow get the credit and the marks that they deserve. If not, they have been cheated and the country will have been cheated.

And the cheats? Just think… will they change their ways at university? Or will they go on cheating, cheating their way to medical qualifications they do not earn, pilots, bank CEOs, ships’ captains, the police or army, other positions they have bought but are not qualified to hold?  Positions which could endanger other people’s lives?

The only thoughts more terrifying than these might be, how many other students have likewise been cheated out of their futures, how many years has this gone on?


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