On 13 May 2019, Somalia's government announced that it has shut down social media to stop students from cheating during exams. The reason provided by Abdullahi Godah Barre, Cabinet Secretary for Education in Somalia, during a broadcast on the state owned television station was that this would prevent students from cheating during the country's national high school exams.
According to Abdullahi Godah Barre, it was discovered that exam papers for Ethiopia's upcoming national high school exams were available and being sold on social media platforms.
"Wasaaradda waxbarashada Soomaaliya markay la tashatay bah wadaagta waxbarashada waxaan go’aan ku gaarnay in la joojiyo imtixaankii ka socday dalka islamarkana la baabi iyo natiijada madooyinkii la galay. / The Ministry of Education in Somalia, in consultation with the education partners, decided to stop the exams in the country and eliminate the results of the polls," said Abdullahi Godah Barre, Cabinet Secretary for Education in Somalia.
Social media shutdowns in Africa
This is not the first time Africa has experienced a social media shutdown, in fact, it has become an all too rather familiar occurrence. Also, it is not the first time that such a reason has been given for justifying the shutdown of social media.
During 2017, another east African country, Ethiopia, shutdown the Internet saying that this was done to discourage students from cheating and leaking exam papers during the country's national exam week. At the time, this was the second such Internet shutdown in Ethiopia as in 2016 the country's authorities shut down social media and some Internet services as the country experienced some violent protests.
Along with shutting down social media, Abdullahi Godah Barre announced the postponement of the exams. They are set to resume from 27 May 2019 through to 31 May 2019.
"During those five days, no social media outlet will function in the country,"
This didn't sit well with students in Somalia. Thousands of students took to the streets of Mogadishu to protest the postponement of the exams where police and even the Cabinet Secretary himself were unable to calm them down.
Cover image credit: Mogadishu, Somalia. Wikimedia Commons