The Malta Independent 5 August 2021, Thursday

MATSEC apologises for using suicide message in Arabic O-level question

Friday, 18 June 2021, 18:24 Last update: about 3 months ago

The MATSEC examinations board has issued an apology for a question used in the Arabic O-level exam which asked students to translate what was effectively a suicide message.

Students sitting for the exam – who would generally be between 15 and 16 years of age – were faced with a shocking passage which they had to translate from Arabic to English.

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The passage, once translated, reads as a suicide letter left by a man to his wife and children who had chosen to “leave this life and die.”

In a statement, MATSEC said that it regretted the choice of text in the passage “due to the sensitivity of the subject matter.”

“MATSEC assures candidates that the members of the SEC Arabic examination panel were selected based on their subject knowledge and experience in the level”, the statement read.

“In the setting of the papers, the panel ensures that the examination is in line with the syllabus and caters to candidates of different abilities. MATSEC has a review system in place to avoid such situations but unfortunately, mistakes, including errors of judgement, may occur”, it continued.

MATSEC guaranteed candidates that this “unfortunate incident” will not have any impact on their grade.

The full translation of the passage in question reads:

“My dear wife and children, I’m so sad I can’t live anymore, when you read this letter I’ll be dead and you won’t see me anymore. I gave you a lot when I was a young but now I’m older and you left me alone and poor without money, therefore, I’ll leave this life and die.

Maybe I’ll find another different life. Maybe I’ll be happy there. Maybe I’ll live with poor people like me. I love you. Bye.

Then he ate the poison, then slept in his bed, and the next day he wakes up happy and his wife calls him and he laughs, his children call him and he laughs.”

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