The Malta Independent 22 September 2020, Tuesday

When exams are a life or death situation

Sunday, 9 August 2020, 09:28 Last update: about 3 months ago

Martina Caruana

In light of the current COVID-19 situation, social media has been awash with several concerns coming from students who are going to sit for their MATSEC exams this coming September. It is very worrying to notice that exams are still in the pipeline. Even worse, there is no solid back-up plan, even though COVID-19 cases are continuously increasing.

As students, we would like to express our concerns regarding the possible implications of the current increasing cases, especially with respect to students or their family members with immunodeficiency diseases. Therefore, we strongly believe that the health and wellbeing of our people should be top of everyone’s political agenda. The amount of uncertainty and lack of clear information, as well as the lack of solid back-up plans, are making students even more anxious.

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Firstly, students do not know the venue of the upcoming exams. Neither do they know the amount of students present in the room. Moreover, wearing the mask for about three hours is very difficult, especially for those who suffer from respiratory diseases or anxiety. On the other hand, the lack of these masks and the amount of heat present in the rooms would instead further increase the risk of spreading the virus.

In addition to all this, several students did not have any help from their institutions after the closure of their schools in March. This led to several students turning to private lessons. However, not everyone has the money and the luxury of attending such private lessons, particularly bearing in mind the recent unemployment caused by COVID-19. Besides, how are we supposed to put our mind at rest, knowing that there may be infected students in the examination room?

This situation is affecting all those students who are sitting for their MATSEC exams, and not your average politician or other decision-makers. Therefore, I reached out to several students from different backgrounds to ask for their suggested solutions. Firstly, many students mentioned the possibility of online exams, or alternatively, giving students 24 hours to submit their examination papers. In addition to this, MATSEC should be in a position to provide software for several science subjects where certain features can be inputted so as to help students carry out their exams, while making sure that all students have access to an efficient device.

A great number of students insist that they should enter University and sit for their MATSEC exams later in the year. Should they fail to pass their exams, these students should drop out immediately. Moreover, it was pointed out that memorizing and regurgitating information is not proof of being educated and therefore, an open book test can be an opportunity to ameliorate the educational system.

Despite the wave of emails sent by a plenitude of students, they were faced by the same dry response from Education Minister Owen Bonnici. Moreover, despite a meeting which was carried out by the KSJC this Thursday, the Education Minister kept on insisting that exams will take place as advised, whilst taking the necessary precautions. This clearly shows that students are not being heard, and moreso, they are left in the dark whilst being concerned about their educational and health situation.

Therefore, on behalf of so many students, we are requesting an urgent clarification regarding a back-up plan of the MATSEC exams while calling Minister of Education Owen Bonnici to listen to these concerned students and act responsibly.

Thank you to the following students who contributed to this article: Marelaine Formosa, Eva Mallia Consiglio, Amy Grech, Catherine Mangion and Mariah De Gabriele.

 

 

Martina Caruana is a student and Member of the Executive of Partit Demokratiku.

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