This has been my third year as an examination invigilator. It has also been a bit different, in very many aspects. Last year, I was supervising senior three students at FAWE Girls’ School but this year, I was assigned to Ecole Primaire Kacyiru 1.
This is one of the examination centres used by private candidates, commonly referred to as candidats libre. Supervising these candidates, majority of who were of adults was quite an experience.
At one point it seemed to be a scary experience, especially, when the chief of the examination centre, a bespectacled gentleman told us not to fear checking the candidates, even when we find that one is having a gun, since many of them were indeed officers of the national army or police.
The most significant observation though was how ill prepared the Rwanda National Examination Council (RNEC) was for these candidates.
RNEC seemed so ambivalent of the fact that these are not ordinary students but adult learners and so certain principles of adult education were supposed to be put into consideration.
Adult learners need above all to be treated with respect. However, at the start of the examinations, most of these adults found the desks so dirty.
More so, in the school compound, there is hardly any trace of grass. It’s all bare ground. So the wind must have been directing a lot of dust towards in the classrooms.
It was so heartbreaking to see a man in his 30s or 40s painfully trying to clean a dust-filled-desk, just minutes before an examination.
The school director claimed that the person responsible for cleaning the desks was so tired, after carrying so many desks into the classrooms. A lame excuse I would say.
The other problem was the extremely small desks in some of the classrooms. These are adults for Christ sake, how then could the examination council even think of having them do their exanimations on desks used by primary school children.
I know quite a number who may have to seek a doctor after the exams, thanks to persistent back ailment they got after using these discomforting postures.
Some of the desks were too small even for secondary students. We had to convince people used to their office chairs and desks to squeeze their big bodies onto these small pieces of furniture.
I kept wondering whether it was really not possible for the examination council to find a suitable hall for instance with desks or chairs and tables that are more comfortable for adult students like these?
Apart from the discomfort that these students had to deal with, there was also the psychological bit of things. A person working in the ministry doing his examinations from a primary school is not a matter to joke about.
A few years ago when UNESCO was doing an evaluation of some adult education programmes in Uganda, it was discovered that one of the reasons why some of them had not been so successful was the fact that primary school classes and desks were being used.
And that the adult earners felt intimidated by the thought of having to sit on the same seats used by their young children. Besides, it was also discovered that some small children would laugh when they see the big men entering their classrooms and struggling to fit on the small desks.
I really think the examination council has the capacity to really cater for these people in a more befitting way. I do not think even Rutayisire, RNEC boss would be comfortable doing his examinations amidst such discomfort. The council really ought to do much better next time.