The first term of the academic year has approached its evening moment and exams are around the corner. The rains have not made things any easier especially for the day scholars who sometimes find themselves trapped in the heavy downpour.
In some extreme cases we have had schools destroyed by the heavy rains in the Eastern Province.
The term has really come to an end for the Senior Two, Three, Five and Six students and they have enough to read as they prepare for each exam.
The situation is slightly different for the newer Senior One’s and Four’s who joined a little bit later. Nonetheless, they have also covered enough to sit for the exams this term and thus have no reason for complacency.
Just like adults are stuck with taxes, students, too, must expect to have exams at various stages of their academic journey. Although one is often faced with a level of anxiety when exams come around, the more one sits for them the more they get comfortable with them.
The bottom line is that they should always find you prepared and equipped if you are to succeed.
Schools should also make efforts to prepare and therefore deliver exams that indeed are up to the standard of what an exam should be.
Although many schools are doing exams right now, you will be surprised at what some of them have in form of exams.
I do not intend to name and shame any school but I will point out what is indeed happening and needs to be addressed. In some schools, the issue of stationery has reduced exams to a mere joke.
In an effort to save paper, some schools print exams in an eye-straining font size 10, Times New Roman.
The teachers are then advised to set a few questions. In the end the secretary prints two exams on one A4 sheet and then cuts it into two.
In such scenarios, students end up completing their exams in just a few minutes on top of risking their sight trying to read the small font text.
In other cases, instead of having the exams typed and printed, a teacher handwrites them on an A4 paper and then photocopies the exam for the students. The biggest dilemma here is that the teacher has to occasionally be called to explain unclear words especially if he has the proverbial doctor’s handwriting.
Do not be fooled into thinking that this business of cost cutting is a preserve of some unserious schools. I was shocked to find out that exams set at the district level have also taken on this format. For example, Ordinary Level exams set by Gasabo District were, in most cases , handwritten and then photocopied before being distributed to schools.
It is simply bewildering that a district in Kigali can fail to engage someone to type an exam.
It is indeed a pity that after all the Government efforts to promote the use of ICT in schools we still have cases of teachers giving out handwritten exams.
What then is the use of the computers that secretaries, bursars and other school heads enjoy sitting behind?
Other schools have rooms clearly labelled “Computer Lab” but cannot type the exams resorting to photocopying handwritten material. And in some extreme cases you still find teachers writing the exam on the chalkboard!
How are students supposed to get accustomed to sitting exams when you are telling them to copy the questions off the chalkboard like it is a classroom exercise? The Ministry of Education should add this to their inspection detail.
I think the school inspectors need to visit schools to see if students are sitting exams or something that looks like an exam. Standard examination rules, setting and stationery must be followed. Quality education is nothing without quality exams.