Ibn Ghaldoun

It’s your worst nightmare, having to do your school exams all over again. For the students of Rotterdam secondary school Ibn Ghaldoun, that nightmare has actually come true.

They all took their exams last week and were anxiously awaiting the results. Could they finally relax or did they have to lock themselves away in their room for another few weeks to revise for resits, because they were just a few marks short of passing?

The answer is everybody has to resit all their exams, not because they all failed, but because almost all the exam papers at their school had been photocopied, distributed and allegedly sold to students at other schools.

The police have arrested three people. One suspect is the son of a physics teacher at the school. The suspects allegedly entered the school through an open window in the room next to the room where the exam papers were stored – supposedly safely – behind locked doors. However, they simply removed some ceiling blocks and crawled through to the other room.

For a few days the Ministry of Education debated whether this meant that students across the whole country would have to resit their exams. Luckily for them, the Ministry ruled that diplomas from other schools would be accepted, although teachers would have to check for irregular result patterns.

Students who bought copies of the exam papers have until 6 p.m. on Friday to turn themselves in voluntarily and so receive a less severe punishment. No one has come forward yet, but they should, because all the suspects’ computers and portable data sticks have been confiscated, and their e-mail and telephone contacts will be investigated.

That is no consolation for the Ibn Ghaldoun students, though. The good ones have to suffer as well as the bad – one lesson they’d rather not have learned, especially this way.