Sunday, February 20, 2005

Thanawiya 3ama debacle

The first semester Thanawiya results came out last week. 1300 students got over 99%, and from what I hear 130 students got 100% (other stories say 100 students got 99.9%). There's a controversy in the marking of private school exams. First of all Arabic wasn't added correctly to the grades and all private school students got 70's. The Ministry of Education said it was a computer error and adjusted the marks. Now students are complaining about other exams and many are opting to pay 50 rials per exam to have their papers re-graded.

Regardless of the private school matter, which will hopefully be solved quickly to the students' satisfaction, the numbers are scary. Close to 60,000 students are graduating high school this year. Sultan Qaboos University will take less than 3,000 of them. Technical colleges will take another few thousands. The remaining will have to pay for a private college, or if lucky get government scholarships to these colleges. Even if 10,000 students go to technical colleges and another 10,000 go private colleges, that still leaves around 25,000 18 year olds joining the ranks of the unemployed.

For the first time, SQU will implement an assessment center approach to its admissions. It's inevitable that come late July you will start to hear complaints that it's unfair for a student who got 99% to go through an assessment center to enter the uni. But seriously, isn't it a joke that 1300 kids can get 99%? If this system isn't changed, university admission will be exclusively for students who get full marks.  There's got to be a better way than this.

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