UNDER BUDGETING by the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD) this year has been blamed for the delay in delivering national exam papers so Form 3 students at Anuta and Tikopia could sit their tests on time.
This was revealed by Mr. Steven Kumi, Temotu Province’s Senior Education Officer.
Mr. Kumi who has held the position since 2015 said the fault was with the Ministry which budgeted just $100, 000 to charter a boat to take the papers to Tikopia.
He said the Ministry negotiated with a number of ships to transport the papers but each refused because $100,000 would not cover the cost involved.
“Tikopia is very far from Lata where I am based. And no ships would be willing to take the papers for a mere $100, 000 because it was too small to cover their costs,” Mr. Kumi said.
“It’s their way of ignoring us,” he said.
He said because of the difficulties in finding a ship that would be willing to take the papers, the Ministry simply held on to the papers in Honiara until last week when it put it on board the MV Vatud.
Permanent Secretary Franco Rodie has confirmed the delay, saying Safoa Community High School (CHS) students on Tikopia were unable to sit their examination on time because no ship was available to transport the exam papers.
“It is really expensive to charter a ship to transport their examination papers over to the islands,” Dr. Rodie was quoted as saying in a published report.
The Ministry has also confirmed the exam papers were sent via MV Vatud.
“Chief Education Officer of the Temotu Education Authority has confirmed that the Principal of the Specific CHS has collected the papers that were sent. Thus, the students should sit for the papers upon arrival. We are hoping to receive the exam scripts when MV Vatud returns to Honiara from Temotu province.
“Besides, the Form 3 students’ continuous assessment data (from the CHS) have been collected already by the National Examination and Assessment Division (NEAD)/MEHD and have been used or considered as an alternative assessment option to determine the students’ placement in Form 4.
“Otherwise, we are looking forward to the receipt of the exam papers upon MV Vatud’s arrival.
“Let me assure you that even though the exam papers will be received late, NEAD will still process the students’ results through our SPECIAL CONSIDERATION assessment procedures.
“The problem with shipping was beyond our control and therefore it was not possible for us to send the exam papers and for the students to sit the papers on the same days as the rest of the students in the country,” it stated.
Christian Mekope a senior teacher by profession said this is a lame excuse on the part of the Ministry for failing to address this on time.
“There are lots of ships making trips two or three times a month since June of this year from Honiara – Lata to Reef islands.
“The issue, however, is MEHRD has concentrated lots on the same schools in town and not prioritizing schools in the remote areas in our uneconomical location such as Tikopia,” he said.
Meanwhile, senior education officer Kumi told Solomon Star yesterday the students had completed the exams. He was expecting the MV Vatud in Lata this week.
“As soon as the ship arrived, I would be collecting the papers so I can send them by air to Honiara. We would not be making last-minute arrangements like this if the Ministry has sent the papers by air to me in the first place,” Mr. Kumi said.
By FOLLET JOHN