Somalia is shutting down social media to stop students from cheating during exams.

The news was announced by the education cabinet secretary Abdullahi Godah Barre during a recent broadcast on state television on May 13, 2019.

He explained that this is the East African country's solution after discovering that papers for the upcoming national high school exams were being sold and shared on social media platforms. 

The tests, originally scheduled for last Saturday (May 11), have been postponed to May 27 to May 31.

"During those five days, no social media outlet will function in the country," he stated without specifying which platforms would be blocked. 

The next day, students took to the streets on the next day to protest the cancellation of exams.

This decision, which will reportedly affect over 31,000 students, has also sparked protests online.

Reacting to the social media ban, Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes Seif Magango said: "It is ridiculous that the government would consider shutting down social media communications for the entire country after failing in its duty to secure the content of exam papers."

He added, "It is ridiculous that the government would consider shutting down social media communications for the entire country after failing in its duty to secure the content of exam papers.

"They should instead explore ways to secure the integrity of the exams without resorting to regressive measures that would curtail access to information and freedom of expression."

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Social media ban is quite common in Africa

This is not the first time an African country has shut down social media in an attempt to deal with prevent exam leaks as this is gradually becoming a popular trend in Africa.

Last year, Somaliland banned social media for two hours of each day of a four-day high school exam.

“It’s a temporary measure which will run for hours when the students are sitting for the exam papers. Social media has proven to be a threat to the examinations,” the Somaliland Minister for Telecommunication and Technology, Abdiweli Sheikh Ibrahim explained.

internet shutdown (African Freedom of Expression Exchange)
internet shutdown (African Freedom of Expression Exchange)

Algeria and Ethiopia have both gone offline for several hours each day to prevent cheating during national high school exams.

Uganda, Congo, Chad, Gabon, Niger, and Gambia have also blocked internet connection during important elections.

One year later, people in Chad still have no access to social media.