School News

Background checks on invigilators, full body checks of students in future: Examinations Department

Monday, 27th of May 2024

The Examinations Department (DoE) has tightened rules and regulations in response to the recent outrage regarding discrepancies in the 2023 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) exam paper, Commissioner General of Examinations Amith Jayasundara said. These irregularities have been observed at two examination centres in Colombo and one in Hasalaka. An invigilator who is a teacher from a school in Gampaha had taken images of the English paper during the examination and posted them in a WhatsApp group, where a retired teacher who is now a tuition master had obtained them and distributed them to other parties.

The two were released on two sureties of Rs1 million each by the Gampaha Magistrate’s Court with a foreign travel ban imposed. Background checks on invigilators to make sure they have a spotless record will be in place to avoid similar unfortunate occurrences in the future, said Mr Jayasundara. In another incident, two candidates from Madrasa schools in Kotahena attempted to get answers by taking pictures of the English paper with their phones and sharing them with external parties. Further investigations into the matter are currently being carried out by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

Full body checks before any national examination will be made mandatory. Acting in response to the allegations that the Science paper had questions not in the syllabus, Mr Jayasundara explained how the COVID-19 pandemic caused teachers to miss instructional time. As a result, the Education Ministry and the National Institute of Education devised a recovery plan known as ‘Essential Learning Contents,’ which highlights the necessary competencies for teachers to teach, eliminating the broad and complex subject areas. Two multiple-choice questions (MCQ) on the paper were allegedly absent from the recovery plan mentioned.

However, to address the concerns with the exam paper, the DoE’s panel of 25 experienced teachers and chief examiners has decided to offer one free mark to each question as a solution. Moreover, the DoE refuted all claims made about the questions on the English, Mathematics, and Sinhala papers, as well as the standard of the papers offered for drawing purposes for the Art paper. They attribute these claims to scandalous attacks created by third parties in an attempt to discredit their competitors, Commissioner Jayasundara added.

The Department has received positive responses from students regarding the 2023 O/L exam question papers, according to Mr Jayasundara. He noted that the DoE would never jeopardise a student’s future and that they are prepared to handle any issue if it arises from their side. He added that to ensure that the examination procedure is conducted hassle-free and in accordance with standards, the DoE has also taken action to assign invigilators from other zones who are completely new to the particular zone. Furthermore, he underscored the significance of thoroughly investigating the reasons behind these mishaps and imposing penalties on those accused of breaking the examination regulations in an effort to prevent similar regrettable incidents from occurring in the future. (NA)

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