Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research

Secondary Examinations


SECONDARY EXAMINATIONS
HSC EXAMS 2008 - INVIGILATORS (11/11/08)
(No. B/1234) Mrs L. D. Dookun-Luchoomun (Third Member for La Caverne and Phoenix) asked the Minister of Education, Culture and Human Resources whether, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate, information as to if there has been a shortage of invigilators in the examinations centres for the November/December 2008 Cambridge Higher School Certificate examinations.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am informed by the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate that no shortage of Invigilators at the examination centres has been reported to the syndicate for the November/December 2008 HSC Examinations which are being held from 23 September to 21 November 2008. MES has a sufficient number of invigilators for the 84 conduct of all the examinations and its bank of invigilators, I am informed, is updated all through the year.
A total of 1528 invigilators have been recruited to work at sixty examinations centres for the HSC examinations. Where there are absentees or whenever an invigilator ceases to work, the Centre Supervisor contacts the MES and replacement is provided immediately.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: May I ask the hon. Minister whether he is aware that during the chemistry examination at the QEC the practical exams had to start at least two hours later, because of the fact that invigilators were not available for the start of the exams?
Dr. Bunwaree: This is what I have heard from outside, but I have investigated. In fact, the examinations for that paper started late not only at the QEC, but in all the centres of the country; I am told that the complexity of the preparation was responsible for that.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: May I ask the hon. Minister to look into the matter, because my information is that the organiser for practical refused to start the examination because, precisely, there were no invigilators and she was asked to start the examination in presence of a single invigilator?
Dr. Bunwaree: I’ll take this information on board. But then I don’t understand why in all the other sectors also the exams started late.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: May I ask the hon. Minister whether he is aware of the fact that in a particular centre one of the invigilators was made to invigilate an examination hall where her own daughter was sitting for the exams?
Dr. Bunwaree: This is being looked into. and I can inform the House at a later stage. In fact, the information that I have is not because of lack of invigilators that the examinations started late there. This is the information I have.
MES – DATA PROCESSING SYSTEM - REORGANISATION (11/11/08)
(No. B/1248) Mr G. Gunness (Third Member for Montagne Blanche and GRSE) asked the Minister of Education, Culture and Human Resources whether, in regard to the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Syndicate, information as to if the Data Processing System has been reorganized and, if so, indicate if the necessary precautions have been taken to avoid any mishap, particularly during the transfer of data for the 2008 certificate of Primary Education, School Certificate and Higher School Certificate examinations.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Speaker Sir, I am informed by the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate that the Data Processing Section has been reorganised both for reasons of security and efficiency in a first phase and a major review of all the systems in place is planned for March 2009 to cope with the increasing number of users as a result of the decentralisation process.
Following the incident which occurred in the transmission of marks to Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) for the 2006 School Certificate examinations, procedures have been amended and implemented both at the level of the MES and CIE.
As regards, the Certificate of Primary Education examinations, there is no transfer of data to CIE as the marking exercise is carried out locally.
Mr Gunness: Mr Speaker, Sir, can I know from the hon. Minister whether the persons who are heading the data processing section system are fully qualified for this section?
Dr. Bunwaree: My information is that they have got enough experience maybe in doing that work, but the Fact Finding Committee has shown certain flaws; this is being remedied.
Mr Speaker: Time is over! The Table has now been advised that PQ Nos. B/1257, B/1258 and B/1265 have been withdrawn.
HSC EXAMINATIONS 2008 – LEAKAGES (25/11/08)
(No. B/1317) Mr M. Dowarkasing (Third Member for Curepipe and Midlands) asked the Minister of Education, Culture and Human Resources whether, in regard to the Cambridge Higher School Certificate Examinations 2008, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate, information as to if there has been leakages in respect of the examinations papers, especially the Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry papers and, if so, the remedial measures that will be taken.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am informed by the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate (MES) that it became aware on 13 November 2008 of possible leakages in the Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics examination papers at the Higher School Certificate level. Upon closer verification, it was found that there were no leakages relating to the Mathematics examination paper.
The alleged leakages were in form of discussions among students of different countries (Mauritius/Malaysia/Pakistan). The discussion topics it would seem were related to question papers already taken by candidates in Malaysia and which were being discussed with other candidates including Mauritians who were yet to take the examination papers on account of the time difference between the countries. The topics were discussed on websites hosted by Blackpapers.info. and Facebook.
The above gave rise to a series of questions which were put to Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) including similarities and differences in question papers set for Mauritius, Malaysia and Pakistan. CIE was pressed for replies to the questions put. Initially, CIE considered that the leakages would not have any meaningful impact on the HSC examinations and that it had its own inbuilt procedure to deal with such leakages. Subsequently CIE, after taking into account our specificity in awarding scholarships based on the results of the Higher School Certificate Examinations, soon realised the impact and implications that such leakages could have in Mauritius.
Consequently, they responded positively to my request to travel to Mauritius in order to assess the impact of the leakages with our experts. According to Mrs Ann Puntis, the Chief Executive of CIE, who arrived on Saturday 22 November 2008, it was imperative that an Academic Committee be set up to determine whether the security of the HSC Examinations had been compromised. Accordingly, it was agreed to set up such a committee with experts from CIE, MES and the Ministry to analyse and assess the impact on student performance of such leakages in the context of the application of the mark scheme to be applied and to make recommendations in the light thereof.
Two experts in Physics and Chemistry respectively from CIE have reached Mauritius today around noon and the Academic Committee will start its work at the MES as from today itself. I suppose it has already started because the time was scheduled for 3.30 p.m. It will submit its report by Thursday 27 November 2008, at latest, and a decision will be taken in the light of the findings of this committee.
Mr Bérenger: If you will allow me three questions, Mr Speaker, Sir. One, it is now today - 12 days ago, the Minister has just confirmed – that this problem was found. We’ve been promised reports from Cambridge day after day, it was supposed to be last Friday and yesterday a committee was set up. It is as if that that lady travelled for nothing, now a committee is being set up. Can we know when we will have something serious, a report from Cambridge and whether it will be made public?
Dr. Bunwaree: The report will have to be submitted by Thursday at latest, Mr Speaker, Sir, and I believe in Cabinet on Friday, the problem will be thrashed out and a decision taken.
Mr Bérenger: Can the hon. Minister give the guarantee to those students and their parents qu’il n’y aura pas de retard dans la proclamation des résultats?
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, Mr Speaker, Sir. We have already taken this commitment, but we will have to take another decision for the laureates. There is no problem for the results, but for the laureates, it will depend on the findings and recommendations of the committee. 76
Mr Bérenger: I read this morning and yesterday, coming from the lady from Cambridge that there is no problem for next year, there will be Mauritius country specific examination papers. Why had this not been done until now?
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Speaker, Sir, I do not want to appear ‘méchant’, but this has been like that for some time, even when the hon. Leader of the Opposition was Prime Minister. C’est aussi l’autre revers de la science, de l’informatique. This is what we are facing. All this has been taken on board and I am sure that next year examinations will be done differently.
Mr Dowarkasing: Mr Speaker, Sir, I have three questions. On this matter, we’ve heard that there will be sanctions and we’ve even heard that the Cambridge International Examination Section is in presence of a list of students qui ont pu tricher. Is this a fact and, if so, are we really envisaging to take sanctions against students on this issue?
Dr. Bunwaree: At this point in time, I cannot answer this question because it all depends whether it has been done innocently or not, but the inquiry will prove itself.
Mr Dowarkasing: Mr Speaker, Sir, I just want to know whether the Cambridge International Examination has submitted a list to the Ministry of Education because this is what we’ve heard and what we’ve read that they are going to submit a list of all those students who have presumably cheated in those papers. Has this list been submitted to the Ministry of Education?
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Speaker, Sir, there has been no list submitted because Cambridge is still continuing its inquiry. What Cambridge has said is that the students mentioned are essentially students from abroad and they have identified the source, that is, the student from Malaysia who has started the whole thing. Sanctions will be taken, if not, have already been taken, by Cambridge as regards that student. Of course, we must study the whole discussion which went on website and then decisions will be taken accordingly.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr Speaker, Sir, the hon. Minister will agree with me that it may be the case – I am not stating that it is the case all the time – that one student while surfing comes across a particular discussion and since he is sitting for the exams, would come and get into the discussion, not because he has got some other motives, but simply, as we already know, it is common practice for students to discuss papers which have already come out not knowing that this particular paper was meant to be sent to Mauritius as well. My question now comes. Can the Minister consider ensuring that our students here do not get penalised by Cambridge just because their connections have been made with the person who started the whole thing?
Dr. Bunwaree: In the statement issued by Cambridge itself, it is mentioned that the distress has been caused by actions of candidates from other countries during the November 2008 examination session. I have already made this point that has been raised by the hon. Member to Cambridge myself and I have made it public also.
Mr Bodha: At one point in time, the issue was raised that models of exam papers will be brought to Mauritius to compare whether there were some differences. May I ask the hon. Minister whether this has been done?
Dr. Bunwaree: I must confess that I had some difficulty to get the papers from Cambridge itself because the examinations were still on and we were told that we have to wait for these to end. I appealed to our Embassies abroad and, in fact, we got the papers from two countries; we have not got all of them, the second one is being sent today. I have myself looked at a few questions and Mauritian specialists have looked at them. I can say to this House that I have found no difference between the questions set insofar as the information I have at this point in time.
Mr Bodha: Will the Minister agree, at least on that issue, that the University of Cambridge has not been collaborating with the Mauritian authorities?
Dr. Bunwaree: Somewhere I must say yes, but that was in the past. Now they are collaborating fully. 78
Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawoo: May I know from the hon. Minister whether Cambridge has been made aware of the introduction of summer time?
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, Mr Speaker, Sir.
Mr Léopold: Mr Speaker, Sir, is the Minister aware that the information could also have been shared by ‘sms’ or by fax? Will these cases also be taken into consideration during these inquiries?
Dr. Bunwaree: I fully agree with it and this submission has been made to Cambridge.
Mr Dowarkasing: Mr Speaker, Sir, we’ve heard that there are three reports that have been prepared in the light of this issue and which has become a national one. There is one report from the MES, there is one from the Ministry of Education and one from the Cambridge International Examination. Can the House be apprised of the contents of those reports and can we get a copy thereof?
Dr. Bunwaree: At this point in time we cannot give copy of these reports. The problem has not been thrased out yet, but I have been keeping the population informed regularly and I am satisfied with the reaction that I have had from students and parents that the matter has been well dealt with.
SC & HSC EXAMINATIONS – OPERATION ESCARGOT –REMEDIAL ACTIONS (02/12/08)
(No. B/1356) Mr G. Gunness (Third Member for Montagne Blanche and GRSE) asked the Minister of Education, Culture and Human Resources whether, in regard to the students who sat for the Cambridge School Certificate and the Higher School Certificate examinations recently, he will state the number thereof who either came late or were unable to attend the examinations on the day the operation escargot was held, indicating the remedial actions that have been taken in relation to these students
Reply: Due to the irresponsibility of the NGO dealing with consumer protection, in particular, a certain Mr Jayen Chellum, a fleet of lorries obstructed the traffic on the motorway at peak time on Monday 03 November 2008. The above situation had a direct impact on the traffic flow at such a peak time and obviously passengers entering or transiting through Port Louis were penalised.
I am informed by the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate (MES) that on Monday 03 November 2008, two papers were scheduled for the School Certificate examinations and five for the Higher School Certificate examinations.
As regards the HSC examinations, two papers were set for the morning session as from 08:00 hrs namely, Accounting and Psychology and three other papers namely, Computing, Spanish and Spanish Language for the afternoon session starting at noon. It was only at the afternoon session that one candidate missed the exams and five others reached the examination centres late. The late comers were granted corresponding additional time.
For the School Certificate Examinations, the paper “Business Studies II” was scheduled from 09:00 hrs to 10:45 hrs for which four (4) candidates reached the examination centres late and two (2) others missed the exams altogether. No extra time could be granted to the late candidates as MES had not been informed in time of the Operation Escargot.
As regards candidates who missed the examinations or were not granted extra time, MES has made a request to the CIE for special consideration to be given to them as per the CIE rules in view of the fact that their non-attendance or lateness, as the case may be, was due to circumstances beyond their control.

SC & HSC EXAMINATIONS – YEARS 2005-2008 –
AMOUNT PAID TO CAMBRIDGE (02/12/08)
(No. B/1385) Mr N. Bodha (First Member for Vacoas & Floreal) asked the Minister of Education, Culture & Human Resources whether, in regard to the students who sat for the Cambridge School Certificate and the Higher School Certificate examinations for the years 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate, information as to –
(a) the number of students who participated therein in each year, and
(b) the amount of money paid to the University of Cambridge for the conduct of the said examinations.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am tabling the information.
Mr Bodha: Mr Speaker, Sir, we are paying hundreds of millions of rupees to the University of Cambridge every year. I think it is a huge figure, and I wanted the hon. Minister to enlighten the House. In view of the fact that it is a substantial amount, I would like to ask the hon. Minister whether the time has not come to have a thorough review of the whole system and its financial implications, so that we can have better value for money?
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Speaker, Sir, in fact, there are too many figures, and this is why I am tabling the information. I can give the information with regard to, at least, 2008. Out of a total sum of Rs255.7 m., Rs40 m. represent local costs, 50% of which are refunded to the MES. I fully agree that this is a huge amount and, in the light of what has been happening in the country recently, we are seriously looking into that.
HSC EXAMINATION PAPERS - LEAKAGE – MEASURES (20/10/09)
(No. B/1014) Mrs L. D. Dookun-Luchoomun (Third Member for La Caverne & Phoenix) asked the Minister of Education, Culture and Human Resources whether, in regard to the Higher School Certificate Examination Papers, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate, information as to the measures taken by the Cambridge Examinations Syndicate and Mauritius Examinations Syndicate to avoid any leakage.
Reply: The Mauritius Examinations Syndicate (MES) has given assurance to my Ministry that action has been initiated at its end with the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) to avoid leakages especially in examinations and to ensure that the Higher School Certificate examinations are held in the most suitable conditions.
In this context, a range of security measures have been taken since November 2008 to forestall leakages of the type that were experienced during the HSC examinations last year, through the internet. CIE has classified in specific time zones all the countries (about 150) taking its examinations and each time zone will receive specific examination papers.
The measures put in place by CIE are mainly as follows -
(i) For the November 2009 examinations, CIE has introduced separate versions of the HSC examinations for the different time zones and candidates in Mauritius will take the examinations at the earliest in the time zone in which we are located.
All HSC subjects involved in scholarship awards have been secured in this way.
(ii) Over the past year, CIE has taken necessary actions to close down websites, involved in hosting improper student discussions, and continues to monitor such activities online, and will take action with website owners and hosting companies where concerns are identified.
(iii) The Data Procession Section of the MES will also monitor discussion forums on the Internet to enable appropriate and timely measures to be taken, as and when required.
(iv) The communication of security procedures has been strengthened and made sufficiently clear to students so that they are aware of the penalties. In this context, the MES has incorporated CIE’s Notice in the instructions which are issued to candidates informing them that -
· after the examination, they must leave behind the question paper, answer book or answer paper, rough work and any other (used or unused) materials provided for the examinations;
· they must not attempt to remove or copy the content of the examination question paper or answer scripts in any form of media whatsoever;
· they must not discuss or disclose by any means the contents of the paper with any person who has not taken the examination for 24 hours after taking the examination.
· candidates not complying with these instructions will automatically bedisqualified from the subject being taken.
(v) As per CIE regulations, the 24-hour security rule is being strictly adhered to regarding issue of papers to candidates. All question papers are collected at the end of the examination and retained under secure conditions until at least 24 hours have elapsed since the end of the time of examination session specified for each paper by CIE.
(vi) Posters are being affixed in Examination Centres to draw the attention of candidates on the consequences of exchanging information on question papers.
(vii) Arrangements have been made to provide a copy of the “Handbook for Centres 2009” which contains details of procedures for the organisation and conduct of examinations at the Centre to each Supervisor and Assistant Supervisor. This new arrangement is to sensitise the Supervisors and Assistant Supervisors to the importance of the instructions given in the handbook.
(viii) Supervisors are briefed at least two weeks before the start of the examination. They, in turn, brief the invigilators highlighting the new arrangements put in place and sensitise them on their responsibilities for the smooth running of the examinations.
(ix) The movement of candidates leaving temporarily the examination room is being recorded and monitored through the use of a new form.
I wish to inform the House that a 3-member delegation headed by Mrs Ann Puntis, Chief Executive of the CIE, which was in Mauritius in September 2009 in the context of the Brilliance in Education Award, has had discussions with the MES on the security measures put in place to forestall leakages during SC and HSC examinations 2009 onwards. Furthermore, Mr Vincent Richeley, CIE Inspector, is presently in Mauritius to inspect Examination Centres for the SC/HSC Examinations 2009 and to ensure that CIE procedures for the conduct of examinations are being applied.
The MES is following closely with the CIE to ensure that the SC and HSC examinations 2009 are held in the safest possible conditions and that the incidents of last year do not recur.
We also trust students to act responsibly and reflect an ethical and upright behavior especially at a time when they are sitting for examinations.
SCHOOLS – NATIONAL EXAMINATIONS – FORM III LEVEL (29/06/10)
(No. 1B/216) Mrs L. Ribot (Third Member for Stanley & Rose Hill) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources whether, in regard to national examinations at Form III level, he will state –
(a) the purpose thereof;
(b) when they will be introduced, and
(c) the options that will be offered to students who fail thereat.
(Withdrawn)
SCHOOLS – NATIONAL EXAMINATIONS (06/07/10)
(No. 1B/260) Mrs L. Ribot (Third Member for Stanley & Rose Hill) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources whether, in regard to national examinations at Form III level, he will state –
(a) the purpose thereof;
(b) when they will be introduced, and
(c) the options that will be offered to students who fail thereat.
(Withdrawn)
The Deputy Speaker: Next item!
NATIONAL FORM III ASSESSMENT (13/07/10)
(No. 1B/304) Mrs L. Ribot (Third Member for Stanley & Rose Hill) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources whether, in regard to national examinations at Form III level, he will state –
(a) the purpose thereof;
(b) when they will be introduced, and
(c) the options that will be offered to students who fail thereat.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I wish first of all to thank the hon. Member for this question. In my reply to Parliamentary Question No. B/40 on the same matter on 23 March 2010, I informed the House that the National Examination at Form III is a Human Resource Strategy Plan 2008-2020, following discussions with partners of the education sector, and that there was unanimity on its appropriateness.
The purpose of the National Assessment is to provide teachers with feedback on the attainment level of their students in each of the identified subjects against a national benchmark, since all of them would be sitting, after two years of further study, for the same international examination of Cambridge School Certificate. This will be an opportunity for schools to be aware of learning gaps and bring remedial measures in the next two years.
Given the importance and the innovative nature of this project, I have decided to adopt a phased approach for the conduct of the National Assessment and, following consultations with stakeholders on the modalities for its implementation and on the basis of feedback obtained, this methodology has been agreed upon.
We are hence proposing to institutionalise the National Assessment in the system as from 2012, for it to be conducted in all secondary schools. This will give us time, as a first step, to allow the assessment to be carried out on a pilot basis for this year and next year in a phased manner.
For this year, the common assessment will be held in four subjects, namely English, French, Mathematics and Computer Studies. Marking will be done at school level in these four subjects - I must give a precision - not by the teachers who teach the subjects at school but by other teachers. As for the other subjects taught at that level, the schools will assume, as is currently the case, the responsibility for carrying out the examinations on papers set by the schools themselves. The overall assessment for the end-of-year examination and promotion to Form IV will rest on and be at the discretion of the schools, after taking into account the entire range of subjects taught there and their specific criteria.
I must inform the House that the modalities of the National Assessment are being finalised by a Steering Committee set up at the level of my Ministry, while the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate is looking at the technical aspects of the examination. These include working on the syllabus, formulation of specimen question papers and their validation. In this connection, MES is also working with teachers of Form III, both from private and state secondary schools.
The pilot phase for this year will be carried out in some 32 identified secondary schools (16 State and 16 private secondary schools) and, for next year, in an attempt to cover more secondary schools, the number will certainly increase, and also the scope of subjects will be extended to include some other subjects like science and commercial studies. The list of 32 schools is made up of eight schools per zone, four from the State secondary sector and four from the private secondary sector. These schools identified for the pilot phase represent a good mix of rural and urban schools, with gender mix, and encompass a range of schools having different performance levels, all of which have expressed their willingness to participate.
The outcome of the pilot project for the 2010 and 2011 assessment will guide the orientation and help to fine-tune the modalities of the 2012 National Assessment.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I wish to point out that the purpose of this assessment is not to pass or fail the students, but to help in orienting them towards those learning areas best suited for them. The National Form III Assessment would be held on the same basis as the end-of-year internal examinations carried out at the level of school. There will be no duplication of the examination in the four subjects being assessed at national level. It would, therefore, be at the discretion of the school to decide whether to promote a student or otherwise, based on the criteria set by the school for promotion to the next grade and considering the entire range of subjects taught there.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to know from the Minister whether, since these exams are meant to be only a feedback, he does not consider the national exams at the level of Form III to be an additional burden on our students’ shoulders.
Dr. Bunwaree: Not at all, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, because the students have to sit for the examinations at the level of the school, and they are not going to sit twice. The marks will be computerised and counted as if they were carried out in the school.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, as we all know, there is no standardisation of curriculum at the level of Form III. Will we move towards the standardisation of curriculum at the level of Form III in all schools?
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, the syllabus will be a common one. It has been worked upon; it is going to be presented to the schools. They have worked on it in the course of the year and, as from next year, the syllabus will be set at the beginning of the year.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the Minister himself had earlier in the year stated that the Form III National exams will be applicable both to the pre-vocational and to the mainstream in secondary schools. Is that not in total contradiction with what we have just heard, which is an exam on the basis of a common curriculum leading on to common examinations in two years, when we know full well that there is not a common curriculum for mainstream and pre-vocational and that pre-vocational students do not sit for the School Certificate?
Dr. Bunwaree: As from the beginning of the coming term, we are going to sit down and see what is the best way ahead for next year. In fact, je pense que c’était sage comme décision de prendre un peu plus de temps pour introduire le système.
Mr Obeegadoo: Reading between the lines, what I understand is that the National examination will not concern the pre-vocational stream.
Dr. Bunwaree: Not at this stage.
Mr Obeegadoo: We have 32 schools, according to the Minister, that will be concerned.
Is the Minister in a position to lay on the Table of the House a list of those 32 schools, and confirm that the 16 private secondary schools concerned have been consulted and have given their agreement?
Dr. Bunwaree: I have no quarrel to circulate this list of schools. There is no problem. I have given the details of how they have been chosen. In fact, all of them have been consulted. I have been having requests of late to add up, but then, we had already decided on 32. So, we are leaving it at 32. In the beginning, we were thinking of including science in the first pilot project.
Now that we are not putting science, we are going to leave that for next year and we have only four subjects: English, French, Mathematics and Computer Studies. Many of the other colleges have thought that they could have participated, but in order to give the chance for the project to succeed, we are staying for the 32 colleges. I am tabling the list.
Mrs Ribot: The hon. Minister is talking about consensus on the Form III National exams, but these days we are reading something else on the parts of the managers, unions and teachers who do not all agree to the Form III National exams. Will the hon. Minister agree?
Dr. Bunwaree: Not really, because when we are in the four walls and we talk they all speak the same language.
Mr Obeegadoo: As the hon. Minister well knows, in the past when references had been made to an examination at the end of Forms III and IV, it was seen as an examination at the end of compulsory schooling, yielding a certificate, so that students leaving school at the age of 16 do not go away empty handed, but have a certificate testifying to their achievement. So, do we understand that the National Form III examination will be a certifying exercise?
Dr. Bunwaree: In the beginning I am calling it an assessment. Let it get into the system, succeed and then it will become an examination with the National Certificate.
Mr Obeegadoo: I am very grateful to the hon. Minister for providing all that information to the House. But is he aware that within public opinion at large, there is a state of utter confusion and anxiety? Will he, therefore, consider embarking on a proper communication exercise, with a press conference, with communiqués as appropriate to provide information to all the stakeholders within the educational community so that people can be aware, as he has made us aware today?
Dr. Bunwaree: I started by thanking the hon. Member, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, for this question. This question has been put on the third occasion by the same hon. Member. Je voulais donner à la députée la valeur de ces examens parce que c’est elle qui a posé la question. Ce n’est pas moi qui ai retiré la question à deux reprises. Now, that the question has been put, I wanted to give the importance to the House - as the question has been put here - and I have come today with all the information. In fact, the hon. Member is thanking me for that. The population will be made aware now about it. But I have already spoken with all the stakeholders and all of them were agreeable and we are going in that direction.
The Deputy Speaker: Last question, hon. Mrs Ribot!
Mrs Ribot: Will the hon. Minister agree that any exam produces passes and failures?
Any exam will be worthwhile only if something else was offered to failures, be it technical, vocational, etc…
Dr. Bunwaree: I said that the philosophy of this examination is not to pass or fail. It is an assessment to give an idea to the students first of all, to the teachers, the rectors of the college where the students go and then to the parents about the situation concerning their children, and then to give the possibilities to adapt and even to move to a better course of action.
The Deputy Speaker: A final question from the hon. Leader of the Opposition!
Mr Bérenger: If I may be allowed a double-barrelled question? Can I know from the hon. Minister who made the decision as to which four core subjects would be taken into consideration? Secondly, from what I understand it will be an assessment, but it will develop into a Form III Certificate in due course. In the hon. Minister’s mind how does that impact on the CPE?
Dr. Bunwaree: First of all, the four subjects have been decided by people who are in charge of pedagogy, stakeholders and also examples from other countries on the international fields. All of these have been taken into consideration. It is so simple to understand: English, French, Mathematics are core subjects. Now Computer Science, of course, being given the trend that the world is taking. There is also the question of Science and Commercial Studies which will certainly come next year.
To answer the second the part of the question as to what will be the impact on CPE, all will depend. If this strategy plan continues and if the Opposition - they have been giving us a helping hand, I must say until now - continues in that direction, maybe that will impact positively in the sense that the CPE will become only an assessment and not a rat race.
Mr Obeegadoo: National exams being of national importance, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, there is an element of absurdity in what we have just heard. Given that the hon. …
(Interruptions)
The Deputy Speaker: The hon. Member should withdraw that word, please!
Mr Obeegadoo: Fair enough, I withdraw. My point is there is an element that does not make sense in what has just been said. Being given that hon. Mrs Ribot has put it as a matter of fact and the hon. Minister has agreed that there is no common curriculum for Forms I to III and that he said next year there will be a national curriculum prescribed as from the beginning of this year, are we to understand that since we are at the end of the second term, it is only at the beginning of the third term that the Ministry of Education will prescribe a common curriculum on which a national examination will be based a few weeks afterwards?
Dr. Bunwaree: Je pense que l’honorable membre est en train de prendre une autre direction. Le syllabus sur lequel les examens seront conduits est un syllabus commun. Il y a un travail qui a été fait pour finaliser ce syllabus ; c’est un syllabus qui est en cours. Je dois dire qu’il y a des différences entre les écoles, mais tout cela a été pris en considération. Les questions qui seront posées seront sur un syllabus commun pour tous les élèves de ces 32 écoles; au moins pour l’instant. L’année prochaine, quand le système sera géneralisé, ce sera pareil pour toutes les écoles. Cette année, il y a eu les élections générales et on a travaillé en cours de route. L’année prochaine, cela va être beaucoup plus facile parce que le syllabus sera là dès le mois de janvier.
Mr Bérenger: Can I request the hon. Minister to clear with you, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, what has just taken place. I agree the Chair can ask an hon. Member not to use an offensive word, but I don’t think that the Chair can request an hon. Member to withdraw what is not an unparliamentarily expression.
The Deputy Speaker: This is a question; we have to take the word in its context. We were having a very fair debate on a matter of national importance. I consider that we should keep the proper tone and in a consensual manner to have everything in a dignified way.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I don’t mind the word used.
(Interruptions)
Mr Obeegadoo: A last point, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, being given that my…
The Deputy Speaker: Please! If any Member has something to say, he catches my eye first and then he makes whatever comment he has to make.
Mr Obeegadoo: Can I make an appeal to the hon. Minister that given the state of uncertainty within the educational community that this pilot national examination in Form III be postponed to next year?
Dr. Bunwaree: We do not want to postpone it; on the contrary, this is a mock exam. It is a simulation of exam. In fact,…
(Interruptions)
It is a mock exam. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I must inform the House that even for the CPE before it became a national exam, it went through a trial process for many years.
FORM III NATIONAL EXAMINATIONS 2010 – REPORT (29/03/11)
(No. B/82) Mrs L. Ribot (Third Member for Stanley & Rose Hill) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources whether, in regard to the Report of the Form III National Examinations 2010, he will state –
(a) if same has been published and made available to the colleges involved, and
(b) the outcome thereof.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in my reply to Parliamentary Question B/304 on 13 July 2010, I informed the House that the National Form III Assessment would be implemented on a pilot basis and that a common assessment would be held in four subjects namely, English, French, Mathematics and Computer Studies with the marking done at school level.
I am pleased to inform the House that the pilot phase for the year 2010 has been successfully implemented in 33 schools (both State and Private) in the four Zones. The Assessment has been introduced so as to reflect the level of achievement of students after the completion of three years of schooling. It is meant primarily to have a formative purpose and help identify weaknesses and strengths in the knowledge and skills, the students are expected to have acquired.
I wish at the outset to clarify that the results of the assessment was not meant for publication nor to serve as an exercise for comparison or benchmarking of the performance levels of participating individual schools.
As such, it was not intended to produce a public report on the National assessment which by itself is not an end of cycle examination. Besides, its coverage does not include all subjects and the results of the remaining subjects not assessed at national level are taken on board at the school level, itself.
In this context, I wish to stress that schools having participated in the pilot phase have taken cognizance of the performance of their students and of the need to take any remedial actions, as appropriate.
In fact, during discussions with the stakeholders of the sector, particularly the Federation of Union of Managers of Private Secondary Schools, the latter made a plea for confidentiality concerning results and for these not to be made public nor used for comparison purposes. My Ministry agreed to this.
In line with the above, each of the 33 Pilot schools was given the responsibility to scrutinise at its own level the results of its students and gauge whether or not the competencies level had been reached. In fact, this was clearly enunciated in the guidelines that were given to Heads of Schools.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the pilot schools were also requested to submit their comments on the overall performance of the students of their schools to MES so that further refinement could be brought subsequently to the pilot programme for this year.
As regards part (b) of the question, I am happy to state that the National Assessment at Form III was generally well received by the schools involved in the pilot project. It did give a sense of direction to the different stakeholders and brought a degree of uniformity in the exercise at a key point in time, that is, at the end of lower secondary.
Nonetheless, from feedback obtained, students have performed relatively well in the languages (English and French) with the question papers catering for different ability groups.
The overall performance in Computer Studies/Literacy was satisfactory with the paper being viewed as giving an opportunity for students of varying abilities to demonstrate understanding. However, it was in the Mathematics paper that students generally lacked a number of basic competencies, although they were tested in a straightforward manner.
This assessment has acted as an eye opener in that it has diagnosed some fundamental shortcomings in the teaching and learning of Mathematics at a critical stage at secondary level.
As a follow-up action, my Ministry in collaboration with the MES, will be having a meeting with Rectors to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses and to make recommendations for remedial action where needed. This is especially important in view of the fact that the number of schools where the Assessment will be piloted this year will increase much beyond the 33 schools in 2010. It will also be an opportunity to hold discussions so as to refine the modalities of the National Assessment as a viable instrument.
Ms Ribot: Mr Deputy Speaker, last year it was announced that a few schools would be added to the pilot project this year before extending the whole project to all schools in 2012 and these days we hear something else. I would like to know from the hon. Minister which is which?
Dr. Bunwaree: There is nothing else. It is not some schools; I said it in my reply the number of schools will be subsequent this year.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would also like to know from the hon. Minister whether he is aware that the low pass rate in Mathematics is due - according to teachers and rectors of colleges involved - to the fact that the Maths paper had been set on syllabus A whereas in most schools, Form I, II and III take the syllabus B.
Dr. Bunwaree: This is not the only reason. It could be one of the reasons, but the other reason is that - what I have been made to understand – in Form III the teaching is done at the level of Form III only without any sort of revision for what has been done in previous years Forms I and II. This could also - on top of the reason mentioned - be a reason.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, why have the markings of the scripts been done by the teachers of the schools concerned contrary to what has been announced before?
Dr. Bunwaree: It is not contrary. I had announced the same thing, but those teachers were not those who were teaching the students.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I have listened carefully to the hon. Minister and he referred to competencies being assessed through these exams. I am sure the hon. Minister is aware that in the technical jargon there is a clear difference between knowledge, skills and competencies and yet the exams which we had last year have simply replaced, for instance, English. It has replaced the English examination in the school; same traditional, academic assessment exercise ‘pass or fail’. Would the hon. Minister, for the sake of clarity, consider publishing a policy document which clearly explains to the nation what is the purpose of this examination and where it is leading to?
Dr. Bunwaree: We were expecting the pilot project to end up and then to come forward with this. This will be done. I fully agree with the hon. Member.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to know from the hon. Minister when the schools which are going to join the pilot project this year are going to be made aware of it?
Dr. Bunwaree: That will not take too much time. I can already inform the hon. Member that so far as Government schools are concerned, 100% will be in. Now, we are dealing with the private sector to know what will be the number of schools that will be involved.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, can we understand that the soon the hon. Minister mentions is sooner than it was last year, that is, at the end of the second term?
Dr. Bunwaree: Definitely yes and last year we had a problem of syllabus also which we no longer have this year because we have already informed. This year we will have science as a fifth subject.
MATTERS RAISED
MES - HSC EXAMINATION PAPERS – TIMETABLE (19/07/11)
Mr S. Obeegadoo (Third Member for Curepipe &Midlands): M. le président, je voudrais m’adresser, à travers vous, l’honorable ministre de l’éducation, concernant la question des examens du Higher School Certificate (HSC) et le cas qui a été rapporté d’un jour durant ces examens où il y aura quatre épreuves le même jour. Cela, évidemment, placera les étudiants concernés sous un stress inimaginable, mais aussi si l’on réalise que les examens du HSC s’inscrivent dans une logique de compétition féroce pour le système de bourse, de lauréat, ce serait très injuste pour ceux qui font l’économie, la comptabilité et les mathématiques plutôt qu’une autre combinaison. Donc, cela donne lieu à un débat parmi les parents qui sont très concernés.
J’ai écouté le directeur du MES qui est venu dire : Maurice est le seul pays au monde, client de Cambridge, qui refuse cela ; que ce sont les règles de Cambridge, qu’il faut se conformer à ces règles pour des questions de confidentialité mais que de toutes les façons le MES a demandé à Cambridge, en novembre l’année, de revoir la question.
Je voudrais demander directement au ministre de ne pas laisser cette question au MES, d’intervenir directement. Nous sommes les clients. Nous avons quelquefois le droit de dire non à Cambridge et d’exiger un changement et je pense que toute la population et tous les parents concernés regardent dans sa direction en espérant qu’il aura une intervention prompte, efficace et réussie.
The Minister of Education and Human Resources (Dr. V. Bunwaree): M. le président, le problème a été pris au niveau du MES bien avant que le débat arrive dans le public, ici. Le MES avait déjà constaté cette éventuelle difficulté, étant donné que Maurice est effectivement unique dans la mesure où il y a ce système de bourse - les lauréats qui sont nommés après les examens de HSC.
Mais, il y a aussi le fait que cet examen est organisé par Cambridge. C’est un examen international ; quand Cambridge donne son certificat à un étudiant qui a passé ses examens, ce certificat est reconnu sur le plan international. Donc, Cambridge aussi a ses exigences. Il faut quand même prendre cela aussi en considération, que ces examens sont organisés compte tenu du décalage horaire en même temps dans divers pays du monde.
Donc, nous avons fait le point avec Cambridge. Ce qui a été mentionné est provisoire pour l’instant. Je pense que Cambridge sera quand même sensible au fait que Maurice est unique dans ce sens où on choisit les lauréats selon ces examens et cela pourrait éventuellement avoir un quelconque impact sur les étudiants, mais attendons.
Cambridge a été quand même assez ouvert à la demande de l’île Maurice. On n’a pas attendu que l’honorable membre soulève la question ici. On n’a pas attendu que la question soit prise dans les radios privées. Dès le départ, comme Cambridge a eu l’information de ce programme provisoire, ils ont fait le nécessaire pour que Cambridge soit plus à l’écoute et essaie de rectifier le tir dans la mesure du possible.
CITY & GUILDS EXAMINATIONS – PRIVATE CANDIDATES - REGISTRATION (06/12/11)
(No. B/919) Mrs F. Labelle (Third Member for Vacoas & Floreal) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources whether, in regard to the City & Guilds examinations, he will state if, in or about August 2011, the City & Guilds informed his Ministry that no registration therefor from private candidates will be accepted and, if so, if he will table copy of the correspondence in relation thereto.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Speaker Sir, my information is that no formal correspondence has been received from City and Guilds Institute to the effect that no registration of private candidates will be accepted.
Actually, the Board of the Mauritius Qualifications Authority which is the Regulatory Authority for Technical, Vocational and Educational Training (TVET) decided, on 29 May 2009, that qualifications not recognised in the country of origin of an international awarding body would also not be recognised in Mauritius.
The decision was communicated to all foreign bodies, including City and Guilds Institute of UK. It must be pointed out that City and Guilds has collaborative agreement with local institutions to run award programmes and has entered into an agreement with the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate (MES) for the conduct of examinations locally.
The City and Guilds issued a circular letter dated 02 March 2010 to its approved centres that they, i.e these approved centres, should accordingly have to ensure that the course programmes they were running were, in fact, accredited in the country of origin.
Mr Speaker, Sir, I must point out that City and Guilds offer qualifications either through the theory route or the applied route. The applied route taken by students attending approved training centres for City and Guilds comprises all components of the theory route in addition to the practical components.
The theory route on its own, taken without practical components is not recognised by the regulatory authority in UK known as ofqual.
Mr Speaker, Sir, at a meeting held at the MES on 29 April 2011, the Area Manager of City and Guilds, Dr. John Otieno, informed the MES that City and Guilds would no longer conduct the theory route taken alone as from the December 2011 examinations.
As a number of students had already enrolled for the City and Guilds examinations, a moratorium was granted till December 2011 for those candidates who were required to complete the theory route qualifications.
Subsequently, another request was made on 15 August, 2011 and the moratorium was then extended to June, 2012. MES has been requested to ensure that all candidates with City and Guilds be enrolled for the applied route so that the qualifications acquired are recognised and accredited by Ofqual.
Year 2012
SECONDARY SCHOOLS – GCE “A” LEVEL (15/05/12)
(No. B/77) Mrs L. Ribot (Third Member for Stanley & Rose Hill) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources whether he will state if consideration will be given for allowing the secondary schools to run classes for the General Certificate of Education “A” Level instead of running classes for the Higher School Certificate.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, currently, State and Private grant-aided Secondary schools in Mauritius run courses for the Higher School Certificate examination conducted by the Cambridge International Examinations and the course programme is normally the same as that for the Cambridge GCE ‘A’ Level.
Private Secondary Schools are already allowed under certain circumstances to present their students for the G.C.E ‘A’ Level Certificate instead of the HSC, for the November examinations. This is obviously applicable to school going students.
It is also of common knowledge that students may also opt to sit for the Cambridge ‘A’ Level as private candidates in November/December and June each year.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in 2004, the Ministry of Education had introduced, as an exceptional measure, the possibility for students having failed Lower VI twice and not being able to repeat, to be promoted to Upper VI and sit for the GCE ‘A’ Level in two subjects. This measure is still ongoing.
In 2011, we have also introduced another flexible measure to allow students not eligible for any subject combination, to be promoted to Lower VI and opt for 2 ‘A’ level subjects, 2 ‘AS’ - advance, subsidiary subjects and GP.
As a matter of fact, out of some 12,000 school students sitting for November 2012 Examinations, 11,000 would take the HSC and some 1,000 would be taking the GCE ‘A’ Level.
Mr Deputy Speaker Sir, in the Education and Human Resources Strategy Plan (EHRSP) 2008-2020 it is highlighted that one of the key objectives is to broaden the opportunities at the end of secondary schooling through the inclusion of alternative modes of assessment as those provided by such examining boards as the IGCSE, International Baccalaureate and the GCE to
respond to the diverse needs of students.
Hence, in the context of the Education Reforms enunciated in the strategic plan, discussions have already been held between my Ministry and the MES about the introduction of a more flexible policy to allow students to sit for GCE ‘A’ Level Examinations and the implications are being looked into. It is envisaged, as per our Implementation Plan that, by 2015, such measure would have been finalised.
However, it should be remembered that currently and in line with the Education Act, candidates are eligible to compete for the Laureate Scheme only if they sit for the HSC and not for ‘A’ levels.
Mrs Ribot: I am happy to hear the hon. Minister say that the Ministry is seriously envisaging to introduce the 2A levels instead of the full HSC, because it is a secret to no one that it is very difficult for a few students to get three subjects to do at main level and one at sub. The bare fact is that they find themselves in such a situation that they have recourse to any subject.
The Deputy Speaker: Put your question, please!
Mrs Ribot: My question, therefore, is: when the Minister says that in certain exceptional circumstances some schools are allowed to run A level classes, whether the Ministry cannot see to it seriously that there are no abuses because certain managers force upon the students to have recourse to A level instead of full HSC for the only reason that their percentage does not drop.
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, this should be looked into.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Deputy Speaker, a system which is there because of the laureate scheme surely is adapted only for a minority and does a disservice to the majority. Being given that this system of HSC, as we know it, has been there, Sir, ever since you and I were at school, being given that this system has long ago been abandoned by the UK and most Commonwealth countries, is it not high time that, without waiting for 2015, we should urgently provide for
flexibility to students so that each student can progress according to his abilities and according to his interest right now?
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, this is, in fact, what we are doing. We are giving flexibility and I think we are going to come faster in the months to come because the research work and the surveys have already been conducted.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to add to what my colleague said and make a request to the hon. Minister the more so since even a local medical school under the aegis of the Ministry of Tertiary Education asked for 2A levels for a medical school.
Dr. Bunwaree: In fact, I am aware of that and this is the reason why we are going in that direction.
The Deputy Speaker: Next question hon. Ribot!
SC & HSC EXAMINATIONS FEES – SUBSIDIES (29/05/12)
(No. A/108) Mrs J. Radegonde (Fourth Member for Savanne & Black River) asked the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Reform Institutions whether, in regard to the subsidies granted to the students for the payment of the School Certificate and the Higher School Certificate examinations fees, she will state if Government proposes to review the threshold for eligibility thereto to allow more needy students to benefit therefrom.
Reply: Prior to year 2007, Government was paying 50% of the SC and HSC Examination fees in respect of all students. In addition, Social Aid beneficiaries were entitled to the refund of the remaining 50% of the fees payable.
However, as from 2007, Government came forward with a new measure for full payment of examination fees for children whose -
(i) parents are in receipt of Social Aid, Unemployment Hardship Relief (UHR) and a basic pension (beneficiaries of basic pension who would have qualified to receive social aid), and
(ii) parents whose aggregate monthly income does not exceed Rs7,500.
Moreover, children whose parents’ aggregate monthly income was between Rs7,501 and Rs10,000 were eligible for payment of 50% of examination fees.
Since then, the income ceiling has been raised twice as follows -
(i) In January 2010, the income threshold was raised to Rs8,500 for those benefitting from 100% examination fees and Rs11,000 for those benefitting from 50%.
(ii) As from January 2011, the income threshold for eligibility was further raised from Rs8,500 to Rs14,500 and from Rs11,000 to Rs20,000 for those benefitting respectively from 100% and 50% payment of examination fees.
This represents a significant increase of 70.5% and 82% for these two categories.
Some 5,694 HSC students and 11,853 SC students of Mauritius and Rodrigues are benefitting for payment of examination fees for the year 2012.
Further review of the income threshold involves major policy decision which needs consultation with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
 
CITY AND GUILDS EXAMINATIONS – PRIVATE STUDENTS (19/06/12)
(No. B/334) Mrs L. D. Dookun-Luchoomun (Second Member for Quartier Militaire & Moka) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources whether, in regard to the City and Guilds Examinations, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate, information as to if, as from 2013, private students will be required to enrol in a training centre or institution to be authorised to sit therefor and, if so, indicate the
reasons therefor.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in my reply to PQ B/919 made on 06 December 2011, I highlighted the problem related to the City and Guilds Examinations whereby the Theory component taken by private candidates, on its own, without practical components, was not being recognised by the UK Regulatory Authority known as the Office of Qualifications (Ofqual). I also added that the Mauritius Qualifications Authority (MQA), which is the regulatory authority for technical, vocational and educational training, decided in 2009, that qualifications not recognised in the country of origin of an international awarding body, would also not be recognised in Mauritius.
In 2011, the City and Guilds informed that they would no longer conduct the Theory Route Qualifications taken alone as from December 2011 examinations.
In order not to penalise the candidates already enrolled on the City and Guilds Theory Routes Qualifications, a moratorium period up to December 2011 was granted which was further extended to June 2012 and recently to December 2012. In the meantime, the MES was requested to ensure that all new candidates for City and Guilds course be enrolled for Applied Route so that the qualifications will be recognised and accredited by Ofqual and the MQA.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, discussions are underway for students to take theory examinations with MES and practical assessment component with the MITD.
As from December 2012, the MITD is expected to offer the theory and practical assessment components.
I wish to inform the House that, as from January 2013, to ensure quality of learning, all potential candidates willing to obtain a recognised qualification from City and Guilds of London Institute would be required to enrol in an approved registered training institution to follow the full qualification and to sit for examination conducted by the MES.
My Ministry, the MQA, the MITD and the MES will facilitate in the process.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, may I ask the hon. Minister to consider the cases of people who are already working in such an enterprises, but who wish to upgrade their qualifications and in so doing, gain an increment in their salaries. Could these people be taken into consideration and could they be allowed to proceed in the normal track, that is, sit for the examination, whether it is at the MES or at the MITD, but still be able to do so without having to be enrolled in certain institutions because it is costly to them?
Dr. Bunwaree: Of course, as I said, the MITD is going to run the courses and they can enrol with the MITD, at least.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the question that I was trying to put to the hon. Minister is that some people are already working and, therefore, it is difficult for them to get enrolled in an institution and then sit for the exams. So, whether for the people who are already in service, we could ensure that they may sit for the exams without having to be enrolled in any institution.
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, but they will have to undergo the practical session and pass in part of the examination as well. Well, we are going to see in what way we can arrange for them.
The Deputy Speaker: Time is over!
 
SC & HSC 2014 - EXAMINATION RESULTS ( 15/09/15)
 
(No. B/504) Mr O. Mahomed (Third Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Science Research whether, in regard to the examination results of the Cambridge School Certificate and of the Higher School Certificate of the November 2014 series, she will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate, information as to the number thereof considered as pending, indicating the –
 
(a) reasons therefor, and
 
(b) timeframe set for the finalization thereof.
 
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, I am advised by the MES that, as at now, there is no pending case of results with regard to the Cambridge School Certificate and the Higher School Certificate examinations of November 2014.
However, I am informed that in February 2015, when results were proclaimed a number of cases of malpractices were reported by the Cambridge International Examination. 
 
Upon the issue of certificate, on 13 May 2015, the results in some subjects for six candidates were still pending at the level of CIE.
 
I am advised that the six candidates referred above had appealed to CIE for release of their results. This is known as Stage 1 Appeal. According to the MES, these appeals were considered by the Cambridge Malpractice Committee and the latter had, however, upheld the decision to retain the results in certain subjects for the six candidates.
 
I am further informed that none of the candidates pursued with a second stage appeal, that is, the second stage appeal is when the candidates are requested to supply further new evidence in support of their appeal. The CIE maintained its decision not to issue any award in the subjects concerned.
 
The final results for the above six candidates were issued to them on 11 June 2015.
 
Madam Speaker: Time is over!
 
SC EXAMINATIONS 2015 – EXAMINATION PAPERS (24/11/15)
 
(No. B/982) Mr G. Oree (Second Member for Port Louis North & Montagne Longue) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research whether, in regard to the Cambridge School Certificate Examinations 2015, she will state if she is aware that the examination papers thereof for Mathematics, Accounts and Economics were scheduled on the same day, 05 November 2015 and, if so, indicate if measures will be taken to avoid any such recurrence in the future.
 
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am informed by the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate (MES) that the examination papers for the Cambridge School Certificate examinations were scheduled on 05 November 2015 as follows –
 
 
                      Examination Papers
Time
1A
Mathematics Syllabus A
08.00-10.00
1B
Mathematics Syllabus D
08.00-10.30
2
Principles of Accounts
(Multiple Choice Paper)
11.00-12.00
3
Economics
(Multiple Choice Paper)
13.00-13.45
 
 
 
There was a break of 30 minutes and one hour between the papers.
 
I am further informed that, at the time the provisional time table was received, the MES did make representations to the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) regarding the duration and the number of papers scheduled on that specific examination day. A proposal was also made by the MES for a time table deviation and for the Mathematics Papers Syllabus A and Syllabus D, to be rescheduled on the morning of 30 October 2015 or on 03 November 2015. However, the proposal was not retained by the CIE.
 
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the time tables for SC and HSC examinations are prepared by the CIE taking into consideration the time zone where the examination papers are administered in the various countries and the potential threats to the security of the question papers. It is worth noting that according to the CIE handbook, it is only when the total duration of the papers taken in one session exceeds 3 hours and 45 minutes that a time table deviation can be envisaged. Thus, being required to sit for 3 or more different subject papers on the same day is not considered as an acceptable reason for time table deviation by the CIE.
 
However, I am informed that in the CIE provisional time table for 2016 SC Examinations, the 3 papers of Mathematics, Principle of Accounts and Economics are not scheduled on the same day.
 
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Lesjongard!
SC & HSC EXAMINATION FEES – PAYMENT (29/03/16)
 
(No. B/45) Mr R. Uteem (First Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research whether, in regard to the payment of the School Certificate and Higher School Certificate examination fees, she will state if the policy in respect thereof has changed since last year and, if so, indicate the reasons therefor.
Reply: As the House is aware, my Ministry has implemented, as from 2015 the measure announced in the Government Programme 2015-2019 regarding full payment of Cambridge SC/ HSC/ GCE examinations fees for school candidates attending state, private grant-aided and registered private fee-paying secondary schools. It was decided that students would benefit from this new scheme once in their school life for each of these examinations, as appropriate.
 
I wish to reassure the House that this policy will be pursued this year.
 
I wish to add that requests for the payment of examination fees in respect of students who have failed and whose families benefit from social aid, unemployment hardship relief and invalidity pensions will be considered by the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Reform Institutions.
 
 
NATIONAL FORM III ASSESSMENT –
ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION (12/04/16)
 
(No. B/156) Mr S. Rughoobur (Second Member for Grand’Baie & Poudre d’Or) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research whether, in regard to the 2016 National Form III Examinations on Entrepreneurship, she will state if the curriculum materials and syllabus therefor are ready and, if so, if copy thereof will be tabled.
 
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, currently, students of Form III are assessed on a national basis in 7 subjects under the National Form III Assessment.
 
For year 2016, the Ministry has decided to include Entrepreneurship Education in the National Form III Assessment.
 
Madam Speaker, curriculum materials have already been developed by the MIE and textbooks for Forms I to III have been produced equally and are available. A teacher’s guide has been provided for the Educators. Examination syllabus for Entrepreneurship Education illustrating learning objectives and outcomes as well as details of examination modalities have been prepared by the MES. In this context, a handbook has been distributed to schools and is available for consultation on the Ministry’s website.
 
Madam Speaker, I am tabling the Entrepreneurship Education textbooks as well as Teacher’s Guide for Forms I to III and the examination syllabus for Entrepreneurship Education. The latter is equally available on the website of my Ministry under the National Assessment Form III Handbooks for Schools Rubric.
 
Madam Speaker: Hon. Rughoobur!
 
Mr Rughoobur: Thank you, Madam Speaker. There was, according to information, quite some delays in the development of this curriculum for the Entrepreneurship Education subject. I would just request the hon. Minister - because the subject is examinable in Form III National Exams - to please ensure that there is un encadrement for the students so that they don’t get unjustly penalised at the end of the year?
 
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, the subject was introduced three years back on a pilot basis and since last year it has been run in all schools at Form I and Form II levels. So, we don’t think we are going to have any problem. There is no delay, the curriculum material is available, all students in schools do have the books and I am tabling copies of the books, the Teacher’s Guide and the syllabus on the Table of the National Assembly.
 
Madam Speaker: Yes, next question hon. Rughoobur!
 
  
FORM III NATIONAL ASSESSMENT - SCIENCE SUBJECTS –
PASS RATE (22/11/16)
 
(No. B/967) Mr O. Mahomed (Third Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research whether, in regard to the scientific subjects at National Examinations level, including Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, English, Biology and Computer Science,she will state the pass rate thereof in 2015 and in 2016, if available.
 
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, with regard to performances of
students having sat for the Form III National Assessment in 2015 in Science subjects, including Physics, Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Computer Science as well as English, the passes are as follows -
 
(i) English – 77.2%;
(ii) French – 68.5%;
(iii) Maths – 41.5%;
(iv) Computer Science – 73.4%;
(v) Chemistry – 50.3%;
(vi) Physics – 32.6%, and
(vii) Biology – 50.3%.
 
As regards the performance of year 2016, I am informed that the report is being
compiled at the level of the Quality Assurance and Inspection Division of my Ministry. I will be circulating the information as soon as it is available.
 
My Ministry, in collaboration with the Mauritius Institute of Education, has devised a number of strategies towards improving performance in the seven subjects based on the learning difficulties diagnosed during the performance analysis carried out. These strategies are contained in the document entitled: Proposed Strategies to Enhance Performance at Form III National Assessment which has been made available to schools.
 
The Quality Assurance in Inspection Division carried out regular visits to monitor the implementation of these strategies at the classroom level. It will also conduct a series of workshops for different subjects, including Science.
 
Madam Speaker, in addition, the promotion of Science subjects is being carried out through the organisation of various activities such as Science Exhibitions, Competitions, Workshops and Science Fairs amongst others.
 
In the context of the NYCBE reform, the National Curriculum Framework for Grades 7 and 9 is being currently reviewed by the MIE and will have more integrated approached for Science and Technology teaching.
 
Mr Mahomed: The figures are quite low for Physics, Maths, Chemistry and Biology.
 
Now, in the strategy mentioned by the hon. Minister, she did not mention about the NineYear Schooling. May I ask the hon. Minister, how the Nine-Year Schooling, with its impending implementation in a few months’ time, will address this very important issue?
 
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, the Nine Year Continuous Basic
Education Programme is a programme which extends from Grade 1 to Grade 9 and obviously, we are coming up with new strategies, innovative pedagogies to ensure that students, through hands-on and practical programmes, do get more interested in the Science subjects.
 
Furthermore, the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre has started a campaign to introduce Science even at pre-primary level to ensure that the awakening of interest for Science is arose at a very early age.
As far as the Nine-Year Schooling is concerned, the curriculum is being reviewed for Grades 7 to 9. It is currently being done and this with the support of educators and experts trying to make sure that the curriculum that is being implemented is supported with relevant, practical and hands-on activities.
 

SC & HSC EXAMINATIONS – EXEMPTION FEES (04/04/17)
 
(No. B/130) Mr Osman Mahomed (Third Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research whether, in regard to the payment of fees for the Cambridge School Certificate and the Higher School Certificate Examinations in 2017, she will state the conditions for the students to benefit from the exemption thereof.
 (Withdrawn)
 
 
SC & HSC 2016 & 2017 - FEES – PAYMENT (07/11/17)
 
(No. B/688) Ms M. Sewocksingh (Third Member for Curepipe & Midlands) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research whether, in regard to the Cambridge School Certificate and Higher School Certificate for the year 2016 and 2017, respectively, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate, information as to the number of students who have been required to pay the fees on sitting therefor, indicating the amount collected as at to date in respect of each year.
 
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, in my reply to PQ B/326 on sitting of 25 April 2017, I had informed the House that all school candidates sitting for the first time for the Cambridge, GCE and HSC examinations, will, subject to their meeting the 90% attendance requirement, benefit from sponsorship of their examination fees by Government.
 
Madam Speaker, I am informed by the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate that in respect of the year 2016, out of the 22,341 school candidates, first timers, who sat for the Cambridge School Certificate examination and Higher School Certificate examination, some 1,356 candidates paid their examination fees amounting to some Rs18,070,772 which has already been collected. The remaining 1,699 candidates have not yet refunded to the MES the 2016 examination fees amounting to some Rs20,384,639. For year 2017, out of the 20,277 school candidates who first sat for the SC/HSC examinations, some 1,713 did not satisfy the attendance criteria. Out of these, 1,700 students have paid their exam fees amounting to Rs19,943,258.
 
Madam Speaker, the attendance level has improved considerably and this new policy has yielded positive results in terms of promoting a culture of regularity and discipline among students. This will undoubtedly impact on performance levels.
 
Ms Sewocksingh: The hon. Minister mentioned in her reply that 90% of presence is required for the students to benefit from the exam fees. May I know how this 90% has been calculated and who has the responsibility of computing same?
 
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The 90% has been calculated by taking away the number of days that they sit for exams, the number of days given for study leave and school holidays etc.
 
Normally, we give 15 days per year, that is, 15 days of absences in Lower VI and in Upper VI or in Form IV and Form V. It has been decided by the MES; it is calculated by the school, that is, the School Clerks.
 
Ms Sewocksingh: I would like to thank the hon. Minister for her reply. But, may I ask the hon. Minister if she can try to reconsider, as we feel that 90%, and especially for the two years, seems to be a little bit tight? As we all know, the third term means a lot of revisions…
 
Madam Speaker: Ask your question!
 
Ms Sewocksingh: Can the hon. Minister reconsider the 90%? Also, I would like to ask her…
 
Madam Speaker: No, one question at a time, please! You have asked one question.
 
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, if the hon. Member is stating that 90% of attendance is too much for students, I think this is a very serious question because Government spends Rs46 m. solely for secondary schooling on a daily basis. I think that after spending so much resources on the sector and all the supports being provided at the level of the schools, it is quite normal for us to require students to show discipline and to attend schools so as to improve
performance.
 
Mr Baloomoody: Can I ask the hon. Minister whether for the sitting of the SC and HSC exams for the year 2016 and 2017, all the students have been awarded their certificates?
 
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, if I am not mistaken, some 1,300 students did not come to collect their certificates from the MES. They were requested to call on the MES to collect their certificates and they were expected to make the payment for the exam fees, but about 1,300 students have not done so.
 
Mr Rutnah: In relation to those students who have failed to pay their exam fees, can the hon. Minister state whether there is going to be any enforcement action against those students or is the Government going to consider to write them off?
 
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, I must say that we are trying to instill a sense of discipline on our students. Now, we have not taken any action as yet for the students of last year, but I must say that this year the problem did not arise. However, the MES will certainly decide upon the way forward.
 
Mr Uteem: The hon. Minister said that no action has been taken, but, obviously, those who have not paid yet, have not received their certificates.. So, that’s already an action taken.
 
My question is: would the hon. Minister consider reviewing the limited number of cases of excused absences? There is a guideline as to what would amount to excused absences, for example, the illness certificate, but it does not include bereavement, it does not include people who take leave to go on religious pilgrimage and so on.
 
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, we have thought very carefully about the whole issue and we have come to the decision that the students should be at school and any other, let us say, decision to go for religious ceremonies, etc. could be done within the 15 days allotted to them or on holidays.
 
Madam Speaker: Yes, hon. Ms Sewocksingh, last question!
 
Ms Sewocksingh: Thank you, Madam. Can the hon. Minister indicate to the House when responsible parties or students who are taking or will be taking part in SC/HSC exams are informed about the conditions?
 
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The conditions were given to them as from the year they entered Form IV and Lower VI, that is two years back.
 
Madam Speaker: Hon. Baloomoody!
 
Mr Baloomoody: Can I make an appeal to the hon. Minister? This year we are not having any problem because it is clear, students are aware with regard to the percentage of their attendance. There was a cafouillage in the last two years. Some said 15%, 85%, 90%.
 
Communication was bad between the MES and the colleges. Can I make an appeal to the hon. Minister to do away, forget about these last two years, give the certificates to those students who have not yet collected same, because they will need the certificates for further education and let us start anew this year as this year we are not having any problem?
 
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, I will leave it to the MES to decide what action to take. We do agree that there are certain students; we have called them to collect their certificates, but they did not turn up. I must say that most of them are students who have sat for Form V, but we will see because the time will come when we can ask them to come and make their payment or otherwise we will decide. I leave the MES to decide on that matter.
 
Madam Speaker: I suspend the sitting for half an hour for tea.
 
At 4.45 p.m. the sitting was suspended.
 
On resuming at 5.18 p.m. with Madam Speaker in the Chair.
 
Madam Speaker: Hon. Ms Sewocksingh!