Reddy: Why External Exams

This is Mahendra Reddy’s statement for the external examinations.   FijiFirst Party’s educational manifesto is entailed to bring about modern educational reforms to the Fijian Education system. We evaluated that
03 Oct 2016 09:47
Reddy: Why External Exams
Minister for Education, Mahendra Reddy.

This is Mahendra Reddy’s statement for the external examinations.


FijiFirst Party’s educational manifesto is entailed to bring about modern educational reforms to the Fijian Education system. We evaluated that while our aspirations were to become competitive in the global market and lift the standard of all sectors in our economy, our education system was plunging into deeply rooted past practices, age-old systems and worn out structures.

As such, the balance of attaining economic prosperity was largely unhinged by the lack of quality educational progress. Amongst the renewed educational initiatives of free education, free textbooks, transport assistance scheme, free milk and the Weet-Bix scheme, equitable and transparent scholarship scheme and establishment of the technical college campuses to bolster educational progress, we initiated to re-introduce external exams in the our education system.

With the re-introduction of external exams for Year 6, 8 and 10 (with Year 12 and 13 in place) along with Ministry preparing standardised exams for Years 7, 9 and 11, we have thereby shelved the Internal Assessment system at all levels. Added to this, we encompassed Literacy and Numeracy Assessments at Year 5 and 7 levels as a diagnostic tool. The dates for final/external exams are stipulated in table above.


Why external examinations

Examinations are a globally accepted assessment of students learning. After going through programmes of study for a period, the students are made to sit for papers to see their understanding of topics and concepts taught. Whilst holistic development is inculcated in the Curriculum through the learning and teaching strategies and programmes, examinations at the end assists to distinguish student’s performance. This then supports the child, his/her parents, the school, the Government and other partnered stakeholders to make concerted decisions on the future of the child.


Exams assist:

 To set a Culture of Performance: Examinations assist us to refine students as per their performance. The students who perform well become easily identifiable and those who need assistance are also distinguishable. Students know that they have to continuously perform which makes them more committed to the education process. Students also know their strengths and weaknesses and work on that. Performance initiatives also set a culture of healthy competition amongst students;

 Educators to provide right intervention: Exam results give us a fair idea on the ability of the child. This makes it easy to select subjects, areas of further study, programmes and courses which are best suited to the potential of the child. For example, after Year 10 studies, the child has a good idea where his/her interests lay that is in Arts, Science or Technical areas and they then make the right choices;

 Effective decision making by all concerned: In the past years, many children were pushed through the ranks and forced into academic classes, only to realise at the end that the ability of the child and his/her strengths were not suited to high level academic achievements. This meant that useful years of the child were wasted in the quest for academic achievements. One of the reasons we brought back Year 10 exam was to identify such students and put them through the Technical Education system so that they contribute effectively to the economy. We have given them Loans and transport assistance and I am proud to say that the pioneer students in some Campuses have already graduated and have started to earn;

 Efficient usage of Scholarships: through external exams, we have the ability to gauge a student’s performance and as such reward scholarships under the Toppers Scheme; and

 Scrutinise students’ level of Literacy and Numeracy skills: The implementation of LANA at Year 5 and 7 levels has been employed to test students’ literacy and numeracy skills after which thorough evaluation of report on per child’s performance will be given. This report will then be used to extend intervention strategies for the child, thus, helping him/her improve on the required skills.


Important Examination Tips for the child

It is without any doubt true that different children have different ways to prepare for exams. However, we intend to list some widely acclaimed practices which will assist the child to prepare successfully for exams. All students must:

 Know what is at stake: By now, you all know about the ‘Raw Marks’ process. You must also fully comprehend the passing criteria to avoid disappointments at the end. Know the format of your papers. Know the marking criteria of different questions and practice on your weak areas;

 Nurture a positive attitude. Do not fear to be tested. If you are going to prepare well, then success is guaranteed;

 Create the perfect environment: Stay away from distractions – this may be social media, television and social groups. These things can easily distract you from revision and chew up important time;

 Make a revision plan based on the external exam timetable given;

 Set clear short term targets and goals: This maybe like learning all definitions in one hour or learning a topic in two hours;

 Reward yourself: After successful revision periods, reward yourself for the hard work with things that you like. This may be fruits, music and time-out;

 Make short notes and flash cards to carry around. This can be useful to recall facts, figures and dates;

 Eat healthy and stay healthy: eat lots of fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water. Do your daily exercise and stay fit;

 Organise yourself: Before you start your revision, ensure all your resources are available. Looking for these things in the middle of revision is a big disturbance in itself;

 Rest and take breaks: Do not burn yourself with very long study periods. In fact, you have been preparing right from the beginning of the year and there is no need for aggressive time schedules. Therefore, when you are revising, do take breaks and have enough rest;

 Seek help where needed. Ask teachers, peers and parents to assist you in resources that you need;

 Mange your time well during Exam, that is, appearing for the paper on time and planning on other routines during the exam; and

 Do not practice illegal habits in the exam. Any form of malpractice calls for disqualification and this area has been very robustly monitored.


The pivotal role of parents

At the beginning of this year, we launched Pillar 4 of Educational Reforms which calls for total involvement of parents in their child’s education. We have evaluated that the child’s first school is their home. It is at home that the child learns the very first basic elements, processes and relationship links. Parents have that special connection with the child which creates that inseparable bond.

While we touched on areas of parental engagement in regards to reading development, discipline and holistic development of the child, we are now asking for parents to complement their efforts with effective motivation, guidance and advice to children as they prepare to sit for their final/external examinations.


Parents can:

Create a conducive exam preparation environment at home –

 As parents, you must understand what your child needs when he/she is preparing for exams. Not all children prepare for exams in the same way. Some need absolute isolation and study alone while some intend to work in groups. Some children are ‘early birds’ that is they wake up early in the morning to revise while some find it easier to stay late and revise. Whichever, their choice, the environment has to be created so that they carry out effective work.

 Decreasing the household work burden is also a means to tell the child that now you are giving him or her more time to prepare for exams.

 Allocate a safe place for the child to study.

Orchestrate minimal disturbances at home

 The study area for the child should be free of any disturbances. television, radio, loud music, loud conversations, gatherings creating noise and other disturbances should all be stopped.

 Avoid disturbing the child regularly for unnecessary errands.

 Let the other siblings and family members understand that the child needs the space and environment to concentrate.


Continue Healthy food and exercise habits

 Assist the child to stick to healthy diets. Support him/her to stay away from junk food and fizzy drinks. Implement ‘study friendly foods’ such as, leafy vegetables, fruits and plenty of water.

 Ask the child to take breaks and not go on working for long hours without breaks. This may develop stress and tiredness. Instead small healthy snack breaks or music breaks are more beneficial.

 Guide the child to continue doing daily exercise to keep fit and healthy. Sweating out assists to release pressure and relax body muscles.


Create culture of support at home

 Sacrifice with the child. Sometimes it is awkward for the child to study when people around him/her do not show any care or attention to his/her commitment.

 Take time out to know the needs of the child. Provide the required stationeries and resources where needed efficiently.

 The family can organise ‘family bonding sessions’ on exams at home. They can organise special prayer sessions. They can organise ‘motivational talks’ through family members. Parents can organise ‘eating together’ programmes. All these create that support atmosphere which lifts the child’s self-confidence and motivation for the exams.


Be excited about exams

 Be inquisitive: Find out the exam timetable, the passing criteria, targets set by your child, percentage pass of the school in 2015, records in the subjects, internal exam marks of your child and other details related to the external exam.

 When the child comes home after completing a paper, take time out to find out:  how he did the paper, what were his expectations and how does he feel? If for some reason he/she is not very satisfied, then the parents must talk to him/her and cheer him/her up to get ready for the next paper. If the child is well satisfied with the paper, then parents must motivate the child that it is all due to his/her hard work and that they continue to work hard for the rest of the papers.


Concluding remarks

Our target for all examinations is 100 per cent pass.

We cannot be pessimists and say that some students may fail.

No person with the right attitude will label a child as a failure before their results come out.

I believe all children have the potential to excel and we will do everything on our part to trigger this confidence in the child, the parents, the school, the community and all other stakeholders of education.

I urge our nation to get behind our children as they prepare for their exams.

Remember if you are in the vicinity of schools you must refrain from creating disturbances which will affect our children’s concentration.

The Prime Minister, honourable Voreqe Bainimarama has envisioned our education system to be amongst the best in the world. He speaks about a vibrant modern education system where our children’s achievement glorifies our nation. The time to put all the years of hard work to paper is here and I wish all students the very best for their exams.

I thank all teachers, administrators, parents, management, communities and the other stakeholders for their efforts in preparing the students and look forward to your continued commitment when the results are released at the end of the year.

Thank you, vinaka vaka levu and danyavaad.

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