Z-Score Crisis Leaves Students On Path To Nowhere
By Dinouk Colombage
The past eight months has been a time of uncertainty and disillusionment for Akushla Senasinghe. Her advancement to university has been stalled by the infamous Z-score blunder.
While the authorities’ attempts at resolving the issue are continually delayed, the students have been left to fend for themselves.
She sat her A/Level exam back in December 2011, and still Akushla does not know what her results are and whether or not she will even be going to university. Her story mirrors that of thousands of other students around the country.
She was one of the hundreds from Devi BalikaVidayala who sat for the A/Levels with the hope of continuing on to university.
“Since I was 12, I knew I wanted to be a doctor. It is not an easy course to enter so I made a big effort with my revision for my A/Levels. It was a year that was spent between school, tuition classes and revision at home,” she explained.
While the girl is not arrogant, she feels confident that her efforts at the exams would pay off. “With exams you can never predict results, but I felt I had done enough to achieve the necessary results. Emotionally to wait this long for these results is too taxing”, she said.
Unfortunately for Akushla, the journey towards becoming a doctor is now on hold indefinitely.
“After eight months of sitting at home not knowing if I would be going to university, the appeal of studying medicine is wearing off”, she said. The disillusioned student said that now she is being forced to look at other options for her future. “I am straight out of school. University graduates are finding it difficult to find jobs. How can school leavers be expected to find work”, she questioned.
Akushla has recently taken to tutoring younger students at her old school, as a way of earning an income. “I am now carrying out one-on-one classes with the younger students in Maths and Physics; it is giving me something to do twice a week. But this is not something I want to do for much longer”, she said.
However, her choices are limited with job prospects looking bleak and higher studies not looking possible in the immediate future. “I considered going to India to study, but how can applications for these universities be filed without us even knowing our actual grades”, the student said.
The extent to the confusion surrounding the Z-score fiasco is highlighted through the students themselves not understanding the reason behind the problems. “We have been told that there is confusion over the Z-score, apart from that they are not giving us any proper explanation. We know they have made a blunder, but it is our future that they have made the blunder with”, Akushla said.
She would not hear of giving up her dream of going to university and settling down in a full time job, “I worked too hard to go to university, I will only let go of this dream when I know for certain I have not achieved the required grades. Until then I will keep waiting.”
While the students are left frustrated and angry, the parents fear for their children’s future.
Nadi Senasinghe, Akushla’s mother, criticized the government saying “the uneducated are ruining the future of the educated, and now they spend their time passing the blame. Unless they act quickly the government will find themselves being forced to deal with thousands of students and their parents taking to the streets.”
According to her, the only reason the parents and students have not protested in large numbers is the lack of leadership. “While student unions, teacher unions and even members of the opposition have demanded that this problem be rectified, there has been no unified and concerted effort.
Protests must go on for a continuous period. An odd protest every few weeks will not make a different”, she said.
Nadi denied that parents could be the driving force behind such protests, claiming that unless there is political influence no notice will be taken. She did admit that the parents would need to play an integral part to keep the interest alive, “it is only the parents and children who care. The politicians are using this for political mileage. When something new comes up they will forget this.”
While the mother remains pessimistic over the government resolving the crisis, Akushla said that she had to remain optimistic. “Otherwise it is too depressing to imagine your future is over because of the mistakes of others,” she said.
While Akushla and her mother are only one example, thousands of other such cases exist around the country. While demands are continually made that the government resolve the issue, the government appears no closer to doing so.