Star Student Scores Zero in All of Her Final Exams

Mariam Malak's family smells corruption in odd case
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2015 2:35 PM CDT
Updated Sep 6, 2015 3:08 PM CDT

(Newser) – Imagine flunking all seven of your high-school finals with a total score of zero. Now imagine doing this as a star student with dreams of a medical career, and you'll better understand Mariam Malak, "one of Egypt's top performing high school students," the BBC reports. "I was completely shocked," says Mariam, whose prior grades had been almost perfect. "I couldn't hear anyone, I couldn't speak. I thought how can that happen? How can I get zero?" The only way to score zero is to write out only the questions on all seven finals, apparently, so the Egyptian Ministry of Education followed up by testing Mariam's handwriting and said it matched the nearly-blank exam papers with her name on them. But in a test on live TV, Mariam's handwriting came out differently—so what's up?

Mariam's family—who are members of the Coptic Christian minority in Egypt—believe corruption is at work. "Either the school or the examination board swapped her papers with another pupil who obviously wasn't doing as well," says her brother. Such tales "are not unheard of" in Egypt, the BBC says, but Mariam's story is garnering way more attention than most, including the "I believe in Mariam Malak" hashtag and a Facebook page with more than 36,000 likes as of this writing. "It's not just that they stole her marks, they also stole her future and dreams," reads one tweet. And recently Egyptian actor Mohammed Sobhy called into a TV show offering to pay for Mariam's schooling, Step Feed reports. "Even if your education will be outside of Egypt I will pay for it myself," he says. (Meanwhile, in US education, students bombed this year's SAT.)

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