Nation shows how to fight exam cheating -- shut off the Web

Uzbekistan only wants the best of the best to succeed. So it finds a simple way to achieve it: shut off the technology during university entrance exams.

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In Uzbekistan, you can buy mementoes of times gone by. Florian Witulski/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Uzbekistan hasn't often been associated with immense positives.

Human Rights Watch describes the country's human rights record as "abysmal."

Yet when it comes to public exams, it seems that Uzbekistan reaches for a cruel and unusual form of fairness.

In order to prevent students from receiving answers by email or text, the government reportedly decided to use highly sophisticated methods. Yes, it shut both off the Internet and SMS systems. For everyone. For the whole examination period.

As Radio Free Europe reported, the sudden need for "urgent maintenance work" meant that the ability to send messages and pictures over two mobile networks was miraculously shut down between the time of 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on August 1.

By hearty coincidence, this happened to be the very same hours during which university entrance exams were being taken by aspiring Uzbeks.

One wonders how much this urgent maintenance work might have affected other citizens. Still, they probably saw it coming, as, in 2011 for example, the very same urgent maintenance work was miraculously required.

The Uzbek nation may know, as Reporters About Borders offers, that many popular sites are regularly blocked. Perhaps these also need regular, yet urgent, maintenance.

Still, when it comes to entering Uzbekistan's universities, candidates have a mere 1 in 8 chance. In 2012, there were 431,000 desperate to enter and a mere 56,000 places.

Worse, you can only apply to one school. For the most popular schools, they might be a 1 in 20 chance of being accepted.

Still, I'm sure that with these nifty Web outages, only the very, very best will succeed and soon propel Uzbekistan to even greater heights than those it has already reached.

 

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