Exams will not be marked once again, says NEC
Disgruntled senior students who failed their exams demand that their answers are marked once again. The National Examination Council, however, says there is no reason to do so, although there might be some mistakes in the results lists.
This year’s senior school exam results have been excellent: at A-level, 89% of the students passed, whereas 70% of the senior 1 to 4 pupils were successful. According to the National Examination Council (NEC), the results were the best in years.
It is small wonder, then, that most of the faces at the school bulletin boards where the results were published were happy ones. Some students were even mesmerized, not believing they had passed.
And then there were the unhappy ones—the 11% and 30% respectively who had failed. Here too, some looked incredulously at the scores—surely there must have been some mistake? Thus began the onslaught of the NEC offices in Remera, with students angrily demanding the council to re-mark their examinations.
Some of these students are exasperated because they have spent some time now waiting for a reply.
Elise Uwizeye, who did Biology, Chemistry and French explains that she first sat her exams in 2007 in Apade secondary school but unfortunately she did not succeed. She then decided to retry as a private candidate at Remera Catholic School, but it was even worse than the first time. She has a hard time accepting it.
“I can’t believe the results I got, how could I get F’s when I felt sure that this year it went much better than the last?” Elise sighs.
She has been coming to NEC for the past one week demanding to see her answer sheets but has so far been refused.
“They told us that they cannot show us our papers, yet we want to verify them ourselves,” she complains, adding that she is sure that there have been marking mistakes, because, she reasons, a friend of hers had the same problem but after verification it was shown that the marks on the bulletin board had been incorrect.
Desange Kamanzi, a private candidate in Gisenyi in accounting, has a different problem: she passed, but there were no grades and marks shown on the list.
“I passed, but I don’t know my grades; you never know, I might have very good scores, so I want NEC to check my results so that I know the details,” Desanges explains.
Five teachers per paper
NEC boss John Rutayisire, for his part, is categorical: there is no need to re-mark the papers. The only thing they are doing is to verify results.
“In the past, every exam was marked by only one teacher, and those people were paid per marked paper. This obviously led to hasty and sloppy marking, with many students getting incorrect points,” Rutayisire explains.
For the latest exams, however, NEC adopted a “conveyor belt” system, where five teachers successively mark one paper.
“So there is no more erroneous marking, and no need in case of a complaint to mark the exams once again,” Rutayisire says, adding that since they have been marked five times, NEC is sure that the points on the papers are correct.
He recognizes, though, that mistakes might have happened when compiling the marks from the papers onto the lists announcing the results. Therefore, when there is a complaint, NEC will compare the result on the results list with the marks on the paper. And indeed, John Rutayisire says, in some cases they discovered that there had been a mistake.
The NEC boss also wants to correct some common misconceptions concerning those who passed their exams and those who didn’t. For instance, many people believe that if you don’t get admitted into a boarding school, then you have failed.
“This is wrong; there are many students who don’t get to go to a boarding school, yet they have passed their exams successfully,” Rutayisire says. “From now on we will style our grading system after that used in Uganda and Tanzania, which means that grades are subdivided in division 1, 2 and 3, as well as those who will go to technical schools.”
Another common mistake is to think that only students who go to state universities have succeeded in their exams. The NEC boss points out that this is untrue, but that due to the limited number of places at the National University, only the very best students get admitted.
“Yet those who have passed, but whose marks were not sufficiently high to join the state universities, they can go to technical institutes or private universities,” John Rutayisire remarks. “There are many ways for one to study and get to the university.”