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College entrance test cheaters jailed in Cuba

Updated: 2014-11-06 07:57
By Agencies in Havana (China Daily)

A Cuban court sentenced six teachers and an employee of the Ministry of Higher Education to prison terms ranging from 18 months to eight years for stealing and selling university entrance exam papers, the official newspaper Granma reported on Tuesday.

The case, originally reported in early June, forced education authorities to cancel the results of a May 6 entrance exam in mathematics for students in Havana province and to hold new exams. They subsequently modified the tests for Spanish and history.

The cheating scandal cost the ministry more than 28,000 convertible Cuban pesos ($28,000) and the University of Havana more than 1,000 CUCs, Granma said.

During the process of printing and packaging the exams, the investigation showed, an employee of the printing house run by the ministry took copies of the tests and sold them to the teachers for 180 CUCs each.

Copies were then resold for 40 to 50 CUCs to students and teachers, who used them to conduct paid review sessions with-students.

University education is free in Cuba, but applicants must pass the rigorous entrance exam.

"The court found that these acts constituted crimes of theft, of revealing tests used to evaluate students and of illic it economic activities contained in the Criminal Code," Granma said.

The trafficking in stolen exams "shows the loss of ethical values and is an attack on the integrity of our educational system", Granma said, citing the court.

The court handed down the stiffest sentence, eight years in prison, to the printing house employee. Two university teachers were sentenced to four years in prison. The others, including one professor who used the information to secure an advantage for his own children, received shorter prison terms.

The court also ruled that the defendants had to compensate the ministry and the University of Havana for costs of around 30,000 CUCs, and it barred them from teaching.

The defendants' actions "undermined the prestige of our educational system," Granma said.

Xinhua - AFP

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