Updated - Ministry to tackle delays in revision of Matsec papers
Updated 4.45 p.m. - The Ministry of Education said this afternoon that it was unacceptable that the revision of Matsec exam papers was completed after resits were held, and it would be doing its best to avoid such a situation.
The ministry was reacting to a story carried in The Times today.
The ministry said it was unacceptable that there were undue delays or that the outcome of revision of papers was known after the resits.
The government wanted to ensure that students were able to advance in their studies, and they should enjoy every opportunity to do better in their exams, the ministry said. The revision of papers enabled them to do that, by seeing where they would have done badly, it added.
"The Matsec Board, together with the ministry will see how, despite logistical problems cause by an increase in the number of revision of paper requests, it can ensure that the students are given an explanation for their results before the resits," the ministry said.
In a separate statement, the PN also expressed its concern and said the situation as reported in The Times was unacceptable and should not be repeated.
This morning, The Times reported how an irate mother had taken the Matsec board to task for failing to send her daughter's O level revision of paper report before her resit exams.
"The report gives feedback on where the student went wrong.
"Had it arrived before the exam, the students could see where they went wrong and focus on the necessary improvement. Getting the report after the resit is of little use," Theresa Camilleri said.
Her daughter received the report of her biology O level exam on Thursday, just after sitting for Paper One of the resit and only an hour before she sat for Paper Two.
Meanwhile she is still waiting for the revision of paper of the Maltese exam, the resit of which was held on Wednesday. Ms Camilleri paid €34 for each revision of paper, more than double the fee for the examinations themselves.
"I paid money for nothing," she said, adding the report should have been received days before the exams.
Another problem with the late feedback is that, should a student's grades be upgraded from a fail to a pass, s/he could have ended up sitting for a resit before finding out.
"I would have been very angry if that happened. Think about it, we pay lots of money for private lessons and my daughter has spent the past three weeks at home studying.
"They need to keep in mind that these are 15-year-olds and this sort of system puts them off furthering their studies."
An Education Ministry spokesman said that all students whose marks were upgraded were notified by telephone before the resit exams took place.
"Moreover, the reports for most subjects have been sent by post and reached their destination prior to the start of resits too."
TESTERS 'PUSHED TO THE LIMIT'
However, the spokesman added, some reports for certain subjects had yet to be sent.
He said the Matsec board did its utmost to ensure timely reports, pushing the chosen examiners "to the limit".
"One has to acknowledge that time is tight and the board declares in the circular sent to all candidates with their result slips: 'Please note that, although Matsec does its utmost to expedite this exercise, it cannot be guaranteed that these reports will reach the candidates before the September session'."
But Ms Camilleri does not accept this explanation.
"If you're going to offer the service, either do it properly or not at all. Otherwise, you are saying that you are doing it for the money," she said.
The results were out by mid-July, meaning there was more than a month and a half to correct the exams in a timely way.
By comparison, she said, the original O level exams were held until early June and the results were out by mid-July, even though there were many more papers to mark.