Maputo — Over 1,500 secondary school students demonstrated on Monday outside the Zambezi Provincial Directorate of Education and Culture, in the central Mozambican city of Quelimane.
According to a report in Tuesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", the students were protesting against the decision to annul the second quarter assessments in eight subjects, where academic fraud was alleged.
Last Friday, the directorate annulled the tests in mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, geography, history, English and French for the 8th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades, on the grounds that cheating had taken place compromising the value of the tests. Somehow, the test papers had gone on sale clandestinely before the students sat the tests.
The annulment affected students in all five secondary schools in Quelimane, who would have to retake the tests and be reassessed.
Angry students gathered outside the directorate on Monday, declaring that they would not sit the tests again. They protested that there is not enough time for them all to retake the tests.
"Noticias" reporters, however, confirmed that the test papers were indeed on sale in the informal markets and even inside the schools for prices varying from 20 to 40 meticais (between 70 US cents and 1.4 dollars).
Several teachers told the paper it was clear that many students had bought the sheets containing both the questions and the answers. Suspicions were aroused when some students finished the test in less than 15 minutes, and when the answers given were word for word the same as appeared on the official sheet of answers.
The teachers said they then investigated in the Quelimane markets and printshops, and confirmed that the test papers had indeed been reproduced and sold. One teacher even claimed that some vendors in the Quelimane central market, who usually sell fish, switched to selling the test papers instead during the days in question.
The students told reporters they did not deny that the papers had been on sale - but they accused teachers and officials in the education directorate of involvement in the fraud.
The Provincial Director of Education, Faustino Amimo, said investigations are under way to ascertain the sources of the leaks - whether they are inside the school managements, or in the District Education, Youth, Science and Technology Services.