High school students arrested in France over leaked Maths exam papers

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High-school students arrested in France over leaked Maths exam papers as striking teachers marking baccalaureate threatens withholding results for thousands

French Police arrested 19 high-school students on Tuesday and Wednesday in the capital city of Paris and in the city of Marseille as part of an investigation into the leaked Maths exam paper sat by thousands of students. The leaked exam paper was shared via WhatsApp & text messages.

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The office of the French police persecutor said on Wednesday that 12 out of the 19 high-school students who were suspected to be involved in the leaked exam paper and arrested and were still in custody could be prosecuted for conspiracy, breaching of trust and exam fraud. The remaining 7 have been released by the French police.

French education authorities are yet to cancel the paper which about 370,000 final baccalaureate high-school students sat for.

Jean-Michel Blanquer, the minister of education, faces another crisis from striking teachers who are threatening not to hand over the exam paper as part of the effort to resist proposed end-of-school exam changes from 2021 academic session and the disgraceful leak of the Maths exam paper for baccalaureate students.

The teachers are trying to convince the government to continue the negotiation on overhauling the baccalaureate from 2021, which would mean more dependency on continuous assessment and rather than on final exams.

The minister of education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, told the French TV station BFM that the authorities are doing everything possible to avert the risky situation. He threatened to cut the striking teachers’ salaries up to 2 weeks should they continue the strike contrary to the principles of public service.

Thousands of teachers have taken to the streets recently; some have been occupying the classroom suddenly while the rest of the striking teachers have been appearing in black outfit to mourn the baccalaureate exam paper. The results of the exam are due for publication on Friday but the striking teachers have threatened to withhold 108,000 out of 4,000,000 exam papers.

French president, Emmanuel Macron, in his election campaign in 2017, promised to overhaul the baccalaureate because he believed it had failed to prepare young people for both university education and modern job market. Blanquer had condemned too much reliance of the French education system on final exams.

That was not the first time French education system grappled with leaked exam papers. Last year, 4 students got suspended after the leaking of a Maths paper on an internet forum in 2011.