High Failure Rate On Samoa School Leaving Test Frustrates Parents

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Lawsuits threatened as ministry refuses to change math marks

By Deidre Fanene

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Feb. 2, 2015) – The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture will not review the grades of students who failed the Samoa School Leaving Certificate Mathematics Exam last year. But they might consider a recount.

That was the message from the C.E.O., Matafeo Falanaipupu Aiafi, during a public meeting held at the E.F.K.S. Hall on Saturday to discuss the alarming failure rate for the students. According to Matafeo, the Ministry cannot change grades.

"However under the policy of the Ministry we can give the children a recount or a re-mark but we will not change their grades," he said.

"We will not do it because there was nothing wrong with the exam paper and the exam itself was based on the Year 13 curriculum."

Parent and lawyer, Pa’u Tafaogalupe Mulitalo, is not happy about this. His son received a grade 7.

[PIR editor’s note: Samoa Observer reported that ‘At the end of a public consultation held during the weekend, angry parents told the Samoa Observer that they would sue the Ministry.’]

During the meeting, former Mathematics Senior Lecturer at the National University of Samoa, Reverend Vavatau Taufao, suggested that the Ministry should standardise the marks. He also suggested that the Internal Assessment for Maths should be more than just 15 per cent of the final marks.

"The truth is the exam was just too difficult for the children, that is the truth," said Rev. Vavatau. "You see these marks will stay with our children forever and they will find it very difficult to get jobs because of these marks."

"This is not something new this has been a problem. Maths Education has been a problem since 2010 and I have been telling you about it but nothing has been done about it.

"[And] why do these children need to suffer now when the problem has been sitting there with you for so long?"

"These children didn’t need to suffer for something that I myself have been telling you about it for so long. You have to standardise these children’s marks, that is only way that they will be able to get good jobs in the future."

Reverend Vavatau also said the Ministry should have informed parents about changing the system from scaling to raw marks.

"Why didn’t you inform us before you changed the system?" he asked.

"The parents need answers and solutions to the problem and I hope that you have a solution."

Another angry parent, who did not want to reveal her identity, said she is concerned about the future of these students.

"I work at the Statistics Office and we deal with numbers," she said. "We hire students who have just finished Year 13.

Looking at the issue, Statistics will definitely not hire anyone who got a 7, 8 or 9 in their S.S.L.C. result.

"I urge the Ministry to take a look again at these children’s grades because at the end of the day, we are not the ones who will be suffering, our children will.

They will have to live with these grades forever so please do something so that our children will not be affected."

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