By IAN MCDONALD
THE Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development (MEHRD) sole purpose of advocating the termination of the Solomon Islands Secondary Entrance (SISE) exam is to lessen the high push outs from the education system.
Permanent Secretary Dr Franco Rodie said according to data collected, so far too many students tend to be leaving school each year as a result of the examination process and fees related issues.
“In 2017 alone, over 3,500 students left their education at year 6 and 9. Our exams in year 6 and 9 alone with excessive fees that schools charge are claimed to prevent many students from finishing basic education,” he said.
Hence, he said in 2014 the MERHD had advocated for the termination of SISE that students sit in year 6 but the progress made so far was quite slow for several reasons.
“I have instructed the task-force responsible early this year to draft a policy to get rid of the high stakes examination regime that has haunted past cohorts of Year 6 students and the progress the task-force has made so far is reasonably good,” he said.
Dr Rodie added he has also advocated for the termination of the Year 9 examinations, saying these high stakes examinations do not serve a worthwhile education purpose.
“The examinations are used in the school system for only one purpose; for selecting students to proceed to Year 10 classes as not enough adequate Year 10 places are available.
“Not only are the examinations costly to administer but these exams also take much of the time of the National and Examination Division officers in coordinating exam setting related activities,” he added.
He said his strong proposition now is to strengthen classroom assessment and to use the information derived from them to inform further teaching and learning and to administer high stakes examination only at senior secondary school level, to serve as a summative purpose.
Meanwhile, his Deputy Secretary James Bosamata explained that initially the purpose of having the year 6 exams is to select students to form ones given that in those years the number of available places provided for form ones is not enough.
“But now, it has come to a stage that the number of places for form ones is now available, therefore the year 6 exam does not serve its purpose,” he said.
“Not only that but we would like to provide education to everyone for they also have the rights to education,” Mr Bosamata added.
He said it’s a long time issue for the ministry but because they need to have proper planning as there are too many issues that are attached to the proposed terminations.
“It’s not an easy task because we are not the same when it comes to provinces meaning some of our provinces may not have enough form one places whilst others do have.
“With that, it means our provinces and education authorities with the ministry also need to prepare providing enough form one places for their year 6 students,” he said.
He said currently the termination of the SIEC depends on the report by the task-force which has been formed within the ministry to carry out findings.
“Once the task-force report is ready and agreed on the idea then we can go on straight to terminate the year 6 examinations.
“That would depend on the report but we assumed we will start off with either in 2020 if the report is ready by 2019,” he said.
He said issues to be looked at is availability of places for each provinces to accommodate their form ones, number of teachers that will be required, curriculum materials for the increasing number of schools and students and finally the assessment strategies for both students and teachers.