Leaks lead to baccalauréat chaos and cancellations

Chaos due to widespread leaks has hit this year’s session of the baccalauréat, the end-of-school examination that gives those who pass it the right to higher education and is often regarded as the first university diploma.

Nearly 150,000 candidates were registered to take the baccalauréat – or ‘bac’ – examination in July, reported Le Soleil of Dakar.

The leaks were observed after the first exam, which was in philosophy and taken in June, a month earlier than the rest of the subjects, reported Sud Quotidien of Dakar at the time.

The widespread leaks mostly affected students taking the literary version of the bac, who represented about 80% of the total number of candidates. The main papers, notably French and history-geography, were annulled and rescheduled for the following week, reported Sud Quotidien.

The maths paper was retained, in spite of reported suspicions that its contents had also been leaked, reported Radio France Internationale.

Social networks were largely blamed for the leaks, said Sud Quotidien, which reported that a leak on a “practically national scale” had been organised on WhatsApp.

Many students were bitter that their exams had been annulled, and thought they should be held again, according to Sud Quotidien which interviewed candidates around the country.

El Hadji Abdou Coly in Ziguinchor told the paper: “I am very disappointed living through this situation after having worked for nine months. With these stories of leaks, we risk being discredited internationally.”

His friend Aboul Léon Dième said: “We’ll have to retake this bac session because all the papers have been leaked and it isn’t right that some had the papers in advance and that we others are penalised.”

Most of the students and their parents blamed the Baccalauréat Office, and parents also called for the examinations to be cancelled and retakes organised as soon as possible, reported Sud Quotidien.

In Saint-Louis, Cheikh Tidiane Hanne, a teacher who invigilated and corrected the bac, said the alarm over leaks had been raised in previous exams but the ministry had not acted except to threaten punishment for the spreading of “false news”.

Many teachers demanded the dismissal of Babou Diakham, director of the Baccalauréat Office, so an inquiry could be held as soon as possible.

Retired education inspector Mody Niang also called for his removal in a television debate, reported Sud Quotidien.

“Certainly there are scandals for which solutions have not been found. But in any other serious country, he would at least have been suspended, until we had the results of the inquiry. I don’t see how this man can remain head of the Bac Office,” said Niang, who also criticised the silence of the authorities, reported Sud Quotidien.

Cheikh Mbow, national coordinator of the teachers’ union COSYDEP, expressed “great disappointment” following discovery of the leaks, reported the Agence de Presse Sénégalaise. “It’s a great disappointment because we had hoped to live through a peaceful school year at last, an exceptionally positive year,” he said.

It was the responsibility of the government to make the process of preparing the exams secure, he said. He called for cancellation of the bac, especially for the subjects badly affected – “to preserve the credibility of the diploma" – and for the complete organisation of future examinations to be assessed, and an audit to find where the responsibility lay and to administer punishment if necessary.

This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.