This is Mariam Malak, one of Egypt’s top ranking high school students – known for achieving almost perfect marks in previous years. Thousands have rallied behind her after she not only failed her exams but was given the lowest marks possible.
Her expectations were high – and rightfully so. When final exam marks were announced, she eagerly scanned the list of top scores, but her name was not on it. Still, she was still confident she’d done enough to get into a medical school – until she saw her results.
“I was completely shocked I couldn’t hear anyone, I couldn’t speak. I thought how can that happen? How can I get zero?”
Malak scored zero out of 100 not just on one exam, but on all seven she sat. Seems unlikely, right? The results were so unbelievable that she and her family immediately suspected foul play. Initially there was speculation that Malak was failed on purpose because she’s a member of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority. But that theory was dismissed, and now the family believes that she is a victim of the corruption of the education system in Egypt.
“Either the school or the examination board swapped her papers with another pupil who obviously wasn’t doing as well,” alleges Mariam’s brother, Mina.
Stories of bribery and corruption are not unheard of in Egypt’s education system. But Mariam Malak’s case received a huge amount of public attention online. Thousands of Egyptians rallied behind her using the hashtag “I believe Mariam Malak” and a Facebook page set up to support her gathered more than 30,000 likes.
“It’s not just that they stole her marks, they also stole her future and dreams,” one Egyptian woman tweeted. Another wrote: “Imagine getting zero in 7 subjects!! It’s a disaster!”
To have received zero marks, she would have had to have left the whole paper blank.
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