We need answers

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Parents’ last hopes rest on MEHRD as uncertainty over children’s future troubles them

BY BARNABAS MANEBONA

PARENTS of students who sat this year’s examination are still uncertain and are worrying over their children’s future.

Speaking with Island Sun, a parent who last week had brought the issue to the newspaper with her story of proactively going against the network responsible for leaking the exam papers, says that the education ministry’s media assurance in Solomon Star newspaper yesterday only reveals that the ministry and police are investigating the matter.

However, Ms Elizabeth Dima says parents across the country need to be comforted with assurance from the Ministry of education (MEHRD) that their children who have studied and prepared earnestly for the exams will not be bottle-necked by students who had cheated.

“It’s good to see MEHRD engaging police in investigating the matter, but that is only one side of the issue. We parents need to hear from the ministry that our children who have genuinely sat the exams won’t be pushed out by cheaters who have scored higher marks.

“Does the ministry have any mechanisms in place to filter out students who have cheated from those who have sincerely prepared and sat for the exams?

“Can MEHRD reassure us parents that this will not happen again next year and the following years? This needs to stop.”

It is understood that there are only limited spaces in forms four, six and seven, and the exam leakage may mean that students who accessed leaked copies of exams may score higher marks hence push out students who had sat the papers in earnest.

Island Sun had been trying to contact responsible officers in the MEHRD since last week. Attempts to get in touch with Director of National Education Assessment Division (NEAD) Mr John Liliu was futile as the ministry switchboard kept saying “he is in a meeting”.

It was also odd to note that last week’s follow up calls were met with an electronic voice notification that the MEHRD switchboard line was out of service. Yesterday, however, the line was working again when Island Sun called. Surprisingly, it was engaged when the paper made follow-up calls after.

This silence from the ministry is disturbing, which implies that it might be hiding something or is not ready to face the hard questions of the media regarding this serious issue.

Meanwhile, Dima had alerted Island Sun last week that she had led police to the arrest of two men on November 8, who were selling copies of leaked exam papers.

According to her private investigation, students of KGVI, Tuvaruhu, St John, Naha, Mbokona and White River secondary schools had copies of leaked exam papers well before their exam dates.

During her search, she obtained a mobile number belonging to a person selling copies of form six exam papers; she managed to book an appointment with the person and took the police with her, leading to the arrest of two men who were in possession of exam papers.

Of the six schools alleged by Dima, only KGVI responded, denying any incidence relating to students being caught with copies of leaked exam papers.

School Tutor Mr Viva admits that they have heard rumours that some of their students had copies of leaked exam papers, however confirms that upon inspection of their students’ examination forms, found that none of their students had used leaked exam papers.

“I have heard that KGVI is also accused for its students cheating but after going through inspection, we deny accusations.

“It might be other schools outside but not KGVI.”

The other schools mentioned above are without phone contacts or have had their lines cut due to unpaid bills.

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