Offline: When Exams Disrupt Everyone’s Internet

Picture of Sebastian Schonfeld
Sr. Communications and Advocacy Advisor, Internet Society
Twitter logo
LinkedIn logo
Facebook logo
May 31, 2022

Every year, throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, millions of people are cut off from the Internet for lengthy periods while students take their school exams.
In many countries in the region, national school exams are a major annual event. They can have a huge impact on people’s futures and the results usually determine whether a student can continue to higher education or whether they can access a specific career. Often, very strict rules apply and cheating is not only frowned upon but severely punished, a punishment that in some cases can even include jail time.
Governments take all sorts of measures to prevent cheating and question leaks before an exam and often resort shutting down the Internet throughout a whole region or even a country while the exam is in progress. 

Like all Internet shutdowns, these shutdowns harm societies, economies, and the global Internet infrastructure – and they often don’t deter the most determined of cheaters. Shutdowns disrupt everyone’s lives, not just the students who are taking the exams.
As our lives are increasingly taking place online, people can’t access services or products they rely on in their daily lives: they can’t buy their groceries, they can’t order a taxi or schedule a doctor’s appointment, they can’t do their banking operations, contact their families or run their own businesses, which affects their livelihoods.  

As we head to exam season, and to provide support to the Internet champions in the region who are campaigning against these actions, the Internet Society hosted: Offline -When Exams Disrupt Everyone’s Internet.
In this online event, a distinguished group of experts discused: 

  • The various methods used by governments to shutdown the Internet
  • The harm that even short Internet disruptions do to the global economy and people’s livelihoods, their rights and ability to access to information
  •  The effects of Internet shutdowns on the global Internet infrastructure
  • Alternative methods for preventing cheating.  

To find out more about what can we do to prevent Internet shutdowns during exam from happening, you can watch the event that took place on 25 May at 9:00am UTC

  • Sarah Cupler, Lead Researcher, SMEX
  • Hanna Kreitem, Senior Advisor, Internet Technology and Development, MENA, Internet Society
  • Khattab Hamad, Media researcher
  • Ahmad Aljanazrah, Assistant VP For Academic Affairs, Birzeit University, Palestine 

The event took place in Arabic with simultaneous interpretation to English.

If you want to help fight exam related shutdowns, you can join the conversation with our social toolkit.
To learn more about Internet Shutdowns worldwide, check out our Shutdown Tracker.

Image by Monstera in Pexels