The Sunday Leader

A/Level Mess Up: The Buck Passed Around

By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema

Contradictory Results Sheets, Bandula Gunawardena and Contradictory Results Sheets

The futures of thousands of students lie in limbo while authorities look to shirk responsibility. The government made contradictory statements before finally appointing yet another committee to probe the controversy over the 2011 GCE Advanced Level examination results.
Serious doubts have been cast over the results of the A/Level examination results released by the Examinations Department last week. The A/Level results of several students that were posted on the Examinations Department website, in the possession of The Sunday Leader show the disparities in the district and national rankings.
One student who was placed in the 29th position in the district was later moved to the 235th position by the Examinations Department. A huge change in the district ranking.
In another instance, a student who had been placed 140th at district level has been moved to 144th later on. Also a student who had been ranked 278th in the district had been positioned at 7,779 in the island ranking while another student who was  ranked at 369th at district level has been given a national rank of 4,113.
Apart from the delay in releasing the results that had been initially scheduled for release before the end of the third school term, students were wrongly ranked and results of various streams were mixed up.
The Examinations Department, after releasing the results on December 25, cancelled the district rankings and later released an amended version saying there were some errors in it.
Meanwhile, students who tried to access their results over the Internet had received results from a stream different to what they had sat the examination for. For example, a student who had sat for the examination from the science stream had received results under the arts or commerce stream.
The crisis was unbearable for students who had waited anxiously for weeks to receive their final results. The Examinations Department attributed the delay in releasing the results to the delay in finalizing the Z scores by the University Grants Commission (UGC). The UGC in turn stated that it needed time to form the Z scores since the A/Level exam this year was carried out under the old and new syllabuses. However, President Mahinda Rajapaksa convened a meeting with the education sector authorities on December 24 and called for the immediate release of the results. Following the meeting, the Examinations Department released the results on December 25 and that too with a whole lot of errors.
Calls by students, teachers and parents for a re-assessment of the A/Level results has now resulted in the setting up of a committee by the President to inquire into the matter.
Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena told The Sunday Leader that the results would not be cancelled since there was no need for such a move.
He noted that the mess was due to a computer error and not due to errors in the marking of papers. “Besides, there have not been any problems in the Z scores that choose the university entrants,” Gunawardena observed. He said there would not be any re-marking of A/Level examination papers since the blunder was caused due to a computer error. When asked as to how the government could guarantee that there were no problems with the results since part of it had to be withdrawn and amended, the Minister said the problem had only occurred when entering the district rankings and not the rest.
He added that student had received results of other streams due to their mistake in entering the index number. When it was pointed out that there had to be a fault in the entire system for a student to receive results of the General Information Technology (GIT) test conducted earlier, the Minister reiterated that the problem was only in the district ranking.  Gunawardena noted that a committee appointed by the Preisdent would probe the issue.
However, the government’s move to resolve the issue by appointing a committee to probe the issue has been met with much criticism. The Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU), Joseph Stalin questioned as to how a computer error could affect only part of the A/Level results.
Referring to the statement by the authorities that the error had occurred only in the district rankings, Stalin pointed out that both the district rankings and national rankings have been affected. “The government cannot say that the district rankings changed due to a computer error. If so then the entire set of results are doubtful,” he noted. “There is no one to take responsibility for this problem,” Stalin said. He added that everyone has lost faith in the entire examination system in the country. “There has not been such a crisis whenever there have been similar transformations in the marking systems in previous years,” he added. According to Stalin, the entire fault was with the authorities that had failed to implement a proper system to mark the Z scores for both syllabuses. “The formula that was used to prepare the Z scores have not been made public,” he noted. Stalin charged that the authorities had to release the results following pressure from the President without properly formulating a mechanism.
Be that as it may, the government seems to have found a fall guy.
The Education Minister after claiming last week that there was no need for his resignation over the A/Level results crisis said explanations have been called from the computer operators at the Examinations Department.
“Explanations have been called from the computer operator who entered the data as the error had occurred at that point,” Gunawardena said. However, school authorities say they cannot accept the government’s excuse that the errors were caused due to a computer failure.
Principal of the C.W.W. Kannangara College in Colombo, D. Kariyawasam, said the manner in which the government has handled the whole A/Level results issue was unacceptable and that the explanation given was unacceptable.
Kariyawasam noted that the A/Level examination was important to students since it decides on the student’s chances of entering university. “There are doubts over the validity of the entire set of results released by the Examinations Department,” he said. Kariyawasam also noted that the government should reassess the examination paspers and release results that are acceptable to the students, teachers and parents. Meanwhile, opposition legislators have called for the immediate reconvening of parliament to debate the A/Level results. UNP parliamentarian Akila Viraj Kariyawasam has written to Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne calling for an urgent parliamentary debate on the controversy surrounding the GCE Advanced Level results. He told The Sunday Leader that the letter was written to the Premier under Standing Order 14 of the parliament asking him to convene parliament to debate an urgent issue that has affected many people in the country. Parliament is currently on vacation and is scheduled to next meet on January 17th. “This is an urgent issue and I have asked the Prime Minister to convene parliament to debate the matter,” he said. He added that many members in the government made various contradictory statements in the matter without taking responsibility for the issue. “Everyone in the government is trying to cast the issue aside by making various comments,” he charged. He called on the government to review, recorrect and release the A/Level results, a fresh.
According to Kariyawasam, the government has to bear the cost of the whole recorrection process since the whole issue is their fault.
“The government has to bear the cost of recorrection and not expect the poor students to pay for their mistakes,” he charged.

2 Comments for “A/Level Mess Up: The Buck Passed Around”

  1. Wombat Power

    These young people in SL have no future in this under developed third world corrupt country. They will end up beggars and bribe takers like their corrupt thug leaders. Thankfully we the expats are living a beautiful wealthy life in our countries with a bright future for our children.

  2. Sri

    This is nothing new. Its has happned in the past and will happen again too to the detriment of students and their parents. This is what happens when the rot has spreard all over government. Now the President is looking into it!

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