The Ministry of Education is planning to shut down social networking site Facebook in Bangladesh during the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and equivalent examinations this year, aiming to prevent question leak.
However, newly appointed Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Mustafa said he did not agree with the decision.
Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid made the announcement during a press briefing at the Secretariat in Dhaka on Tuesday.
“Facebook will remain closed during the SSC exams. We will consult the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) and the Information and Communication Technology Division in this regard,” Nahid said.
In reaction to Nahid’s statement on Tuesday evening, Mustafa Jabbar said: “I do not agree with this decision. We should combat the ill use of technology with the help of technology, not by shutting it down.”
There is a precedent for popular social media and messaging platforms being shut down to prevent cheating and question leaks during exams in other countries.
Ethiopia blocked Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Viber in July 2016 for several days during the university entrance exams, reported BBC.
The Ethiopian government said the ban was to “prevent students from getting distracted from studying” and to “prevent the spread of false rumours.”
A year later, in May 2017, the same country shut down the internet during the Grade 10 national exams to prevent exam leaks, reported Quartz.
Nurul Islam Nahid on Tuesday said the government had taken other steps to prevent leaks and cheating.
SSC examinees this year will have to be seated in the exam hall half an hour before the exam is scheduled to begin.
“If any candidate fails to do that, he or she will not be allowed to enter the exam hall,” the education minister said.
In order to prevent question leak, sealed question paper packets will be opened 30 minutes before the tests begin.
“Anyone who opens the packets even one minute before the designated time will be subject to legal action,” Nahid said.
The minister said an inspection team would be appointed to monitor whether these instructions are being followed in the exam centres.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Education also decided to impose a ban on using mobile phones by students, teachers and other duty officials and staff of the exam centres during the SSC examination, which is scheduled to begin on February 1.
Anyone – both teachers and students – in possession of a phone will be expelled immediately, the ministry said.