Dubai students suspended over alleged hacking to steal test papers

Three pupils in a Gems school in Dubai have been suspended for allegedly stealing Grade 8 test papers.

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DUBAI // Three pupils have been suspended for allegedly hacking into a school's computer system to steal test papers, forcing an entire year to retake their exams.

They are believed to have hacked into the Dubai Modern High School's system and accessed the Grade 8 papers, which they shared with other pupils.

A spokesman for Gems Education, which runs the school, said the pupils had been suspended pending an investigation.

"Gems takes the issue of cheating very seriously as it goes against the values that all Gems students are taught in the school," he said.

The spokesman said because the school did not know which pupils had seen the papers, all pupils in that year would have to sit exams again.

School officials did not say for how long the three would be suspended.

Expulsion would require approval from the Dubai private schools regulator, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).

"If the school is seeking to permanently remove the pupil from its rolls, KHDA's prior consent is required," said Mohammed Darwish, head of regulations and compliance at the authority.

"The authority then investigates the case, looks at the reasons and evidence, and seeks to resolve the issue at hand before deciding."

A mother of two pupils at the school said a longer suspension or expulsion would be too harsh.

"I think the reasons that prompted the children to leak the papers should be looked at," said the mother, whose son is in Grade 9.

"Just a suspension will not work. The parents and school must think about counselling the pupils so that it does not happen again."

She said other children were also being questioned about the incident.

"It has been a big deal for the children in the higher grades because you rarely [of] hear such things happening here.

"For them it was like, 'wow, they actually hacked into the system to get the papers'. They get excited.

"You then have to sit them down and explain to them that it's not the right thing to do."