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The Internet Education

Ethiopia Turns Off Internet Nationwide as Students Sit Exams (theguardian.com) 81

Ethiopia shut down the internet yesterday ahead of a scheduled national examination that is underway in the country today. Social media users noted that the internet service was interrupted from around 7 pm on Tuesday -- reportedly to prevent exam leaks. About 1.2 million students are taking the grade 10 national exams, with another 288,000 preparing for the grade 12 university entrance exams that will take place next week. From a report: Outbound traffic from Ethiopia was shutdown around 4pm UK time on Tuesday, according to Google's transparency report, which registered Ethiopian visits to the company's sites plummeting over the evening. By Wednesday afternoon, access still had not been restored. Last year, activists leaked the papers for the country's 12th grade national exams, calling for the postponement of the papers due to a school shutdown in the regional state of Oromia. Now, the government appears to have taken the move to shut down internet access as a preventative measure.
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Ethiopia Turns Off Internet Nationwide as Students Sit Exams

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  • wrong problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by supernova87a ( 532540 ) <kepler1 AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @01:49PM (#54519851)
    How about they work on the correct problem? I don't think the internet spreading the leaked exams is the issue, it's that the exams are leaked...

    Might as well shut down electricity in the whole country to be absolutely sure, huh? Kind of a sign of a backwards government policy (or reflecting the lack of importance of internet/connectivity) when one small problem can cause a whole other system to be shut down...
    • Thankfully, it's a self-correcting problem. The students potentially using the Internet to disseminate the information will soon be the once-students who are leading the country and are aware that it's absolutely insane to shut off the Internet to an entire country for something this insignificant.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Take a look at some of the posts below about how little internet traffic they have to get a bit of an understanding of why it's not such a huge deal as you have assumed.
      Maybe you can relate to it if you think of it like a scheduled World of Warcraft overnight server shutdown only not for as many hours.
    • gosh. my internet is still on...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is actually a really interesting way to solve a challenging problem (cheating). It's a little crazy, but it's a poor country. I don't completely oppose this. An education system with integrity is extremely important for a country.

    • by Guybrush_T ( 980074 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @01:59PM (#54519911)
      Plus, shutting down the internet may not make a huge difference. Less than 4% of the population has internet access.
      • by hackel ( 10452 )

        That's a very good point I hadn't considered. If the majority of the people who actually have internet access are students, it actually makes a lot more sense. Not saying it's right, but it seems less wrong/damaging if the majority of people's lives aren't as dependent on internet access as they are in the developed world. Perhaps simply shutting down internet access at all the schools would have been enough, tough, if that's primarily where they access the internet.

      • !nsightful, probably real.
    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @01:59PM (#54519919)

      This is actually a really interesting way to solve a challenging problem (cheating).

      Indeed. Also, thermonuclear weapons are a great way to get rid of pesky mosquitoes.

      • by Pascoea ( 968200 )
        Maybe that's what NK is up to then.
      • by TWX ( 665546 )

        I don't think that mosquitoes would be eliminated by thermonuclear weapons. Every square-foot of surface would have to be nuked at the exact same time.

      • They can't apply normal fixes to the problem, less than half the populace even has basic literacy, with workforce like that do you really think the government and education system is terribly capable of executing policies normally? If nothing else works then you have to go for the heavy handed method. And they really-really need their education system to start working and producing people that are not complete morons.
    • by guises ( 2423402 )
      I'm consistently impressed with how dedicated Africans seem to be to education. It perhaps over-emphasizes youth, but it does seem very forward thinking.

      (Albeit, it's probably unreasonable to lump all of Africa together. I'm sure there are some African countries / groups who don't give a shit about education.)
      • It make sense to prioritize education. Lack of it is the main cause of their thousand problems and they can't fix any of them before they have the workforce educated enough to start fixing things. You can talk about reforms, industrialization, building infrastructure, developing economy and all that, but if people listening can't even read and write then its just plain waste of effort because it's never ever going to happen.
    • > An education system with integrity is extremely important for a country.

      Paging Betsy DeVoss. Paging Betsy DeVoss.
  • People are too easily distracted by random nonsense on the internet, kids these days. Look at all the covfefe about Trump this morning. Did that add value to anyone's life? No.

    More places should turn off the internet for a while. Even IoT sensors could buffer their stats until it's switched back on. I would recommend switching it off for 2-3 days in the summer and 24th-27th of December. Give people a chance to rediscover the outdoors and all of that.
    • I've found it interesting since it gives me insight about how other people think about language.

      For me, I need to know how to write a word to be able to think about it. Its ethymology and generally how its writing compares to that of other words helps my understanding of its meaning and its relationships with other concepts.

      Clearly that's not the case for some other people, who appear to just think of words based on the sound they think they've heard when others said it.

  • It's the only way to be sure
  • I don't think people leaking an exam can be called "activists." This is a pretty pathetic way to try to combat this level of rampant cheating. It's really sad that such a state exists, and that they have failed to convey decent values to these students by grade 10/12. Then again, apparently cheating is also rampant in the US, where students have equally terrible values and little to no integrity.

    Sounds like the real issue is that they are using the same exam all over the country. Couldn't this be fixed

    • they have failed to convey decent values to these students by grade 10/12.

      This is not about "values". People everywhere will act in their own self-interest. Rampant cheating frequently happens in Western countries when people feel that they can "get away with it". It isn't limited to students either. There have been big cheating scandals on teacher qualification exams in numerous American cities, and it was clear that most of the participants cheated.

      The solution is to reduce opportunities for cheating and make sure the chance of getting caught, and the severity of the consequ

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      The internet is too critical a tool for society ... to shut it down even for just a day

      But it's neither for an entire day or available enough there for it to have become a critical tool.

    • Nation-wide exams are a good practice and allow to grade everybody on the same standard.
      I understand the concept of standards may be something alien to an American but that is how skills and knowledge are usually assessed at the end of high school in civilized countries.

  • by ilsaloving ( 1534307 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @02:08PM (#54519989)

    Seriously? Shut down the internet for the entire country, *just for exams*?

    Sweet pterodactyl projectile diarrhea on a dreidel, how many different kinds of wrong could have gone into a decision as boneheaded as that?

    Do businesses in Ethiopia not depend on the internet for anything?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Mining companies have satellite uplinks

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@worfCOLA.net minus caffeine> on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @03:22PM (#54520561)

      Seriously? Shut down the internet for the entire country, *just for exams*?

      In a lot of places, every student writes exams at the same time. Shutting down the internet for the 3-4 hours while every student writes exams is a cheap and easy way to keep them from cheating via Google.

      It's not feasible in most Western nations because there's rarely a time where every single student is taking an exam, but a lot of places (especially places following the old British education system) every student has to sit down and write one massive end of year exam that basically counts for all the marks. Cheating is rampant because in the final years those exams dictate the next phase in your life - do you head off and become a common labourer, do you get a scholarship and get to attend university overseas, or do you get post-secondary education locally? And yes, suicide is also rampant - students who feel they failed their parents (i.e., did not live up to expectations, which are often "overseas university full scholarship") often feel they can't face the shame (or punishment) of getting anything less.

      Hell, you know it's big when Amazon sells special "cheating watches" which are basically watches with an SD card slot - you load up the watch with your textbook and notes and such, and then wear it as a normal watch, but with the ability to skim through it like a mini eBook reader.

      • In a lot of places, every student writes exams at the same time. Shutting down the internet for the 3-4 hours while every student writes exams is a cheap and easy way to keep them from cheating via Google.

        This wasn't 3-4 hours, it was at least a full day. The shutdown started 4pm UK time on Tuesday and access was still not restored as of Wednesday afternoon.

        It's not feasible in most Western nations because there's rarely a time where every single student is taking an exam...

        Not only that, but the Internet is used by many people other than students taking exams. Even with every student taking exams at exactly the same time, it would be completely impractical to shut down the Internet in most Western nations even for 3-4 hours, let alone an entire day.

        This is not about the importance of the exams so much as the fact that Ethio

        • This wasn't 3-4 hours, it was at least a full day. The shutdown started 4pm UK time on Tuesday and access was still not restored as of Wednesday afternoon.

          Given the percentage of population have internet, and the even smaller percentage who depend on it I doubt this is a very big problem. 3/4 of the population doesn't have electricity and it's a country with one of the lowest percentages of access to modern utilities in the world.

          I wonder if anyone even noticed the internet was off.

  • Some are shocked Ethiopia has internet.

    Others are shocked they have schools and the students write exams

    But mostly, they are shocked there is a place called Ethiopia that is real. They assumed it was one of the imaginary kingdoms in Cecil B Demille movies.

  • Given the state of Ethiopia the impact of such a move is significantly less that it would be in a developed nation. And education is kind of the highest priority they can have right now, they need to fix education before they can fix anything else. Illiterate populace is just no good in getting a country up and running. The few companies that actually need internet access have probably rolled their own already, sat internet or whatever.
  • This is completely false. I know for sure, how else could its rich prince have emailed me for help on recovering the throne from the evil dictatorship?
  • Just pull out your local printed copy. I print one out weekly, so I have a backup of the Internet any time I need it!
  • by sproketboy ( 608031 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @04:17PM (#54520961)

    If you want to prevent cheating you could disable internet at the Universities themselves with various firewall techniques.

    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      That wouldn't really work unless they could also convince the cell companies to shut down service in all of the towers within range of the university. Having to plug in a cat5 to cheat would be pretty blindingly obvious to the proctor.

  • And just as I was about to score an easy 10 million for working with Mrs Elam Mugambe', the poor dear who lost her husband and needed my help with depositing the money in a bank. But then the internet went down.

    Lovingly, in Christ Jesus.

Do you suffer painful illumination? -- Isaac Newton, "Optics"

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