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News: Ethiopian examination agency acknowledges technical errors, promises review, but students remain frustrated, warns of frantic failures in school leaving exams



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Thousands of students still rushed to Addis Ababa's national exam agency building to complain

Zecharias Zelalem

Addis Ababa, 17/2019 August – Ministry of Education officials have been trying to upset outraged students and parents across the country after the results of more than 300,000 students who sat for this year's Grade 12 university entrance exam were released, exposing irregularities including shock levels of poor performance.

Students across the country have complained about impaired rating on several topics, especially School Aptitude Course. Collective failure of most students in this course is mentioned as the most striking example of erroneous grading.

A statement posted on the Ministry's official Facebook page acknowledged the errors in the interference of Scholastic Aptitude exams, promising to modify them soon. Prior to the release of the statement, Araya Gebregziabher, Director of the National Education Assessment and Examinations Agency (NEAEA) told state media broadcaster EBC that there was a "scan error." "We realized quickly that there was a problem," he said. "Students who regularly record scores of 60% or 70% will not suddenly receive scores of 10%."

The uproar started last weekend when NEAEA announced that students can access their academic results through its website. Over the next few days, it became obvious that something was amiss, as Grade 12 students took the NEAEA official Facebook page to complain and demand a review of the test scores. For many of the students, the results would jeopardize their university enrollment and uncertainty was a source of anxiety for many. On Wednesday, August 14, hundreds of parents and students converged on the Ministry of Education headquarters in Addis Ababa demanding clarification.

Classification is done using automated software that has had technical errors, or "unlocked keys," as NEAEA director Araya Gebregziabher said. Four days after the results were released, the Ministry of Education acknowledged the wrongdoing, stating that the revisions will see updates in results for just under 150,000 students.

Meseret Abera, a teacher from the southern Ethiopian city of Hossana, made the 230-km trip to Addis Ababa to complain about her son's name. She was among the crowd gathered outside the NEAEA building and spoke to local outlet EthioTimes. "My son was a top performer all his life. He received Al directly for his 10th degree exams. I found it hard to believe that he would suddenly get notes as low as 22%. "

Another parent called for a review of ME practices. "It is a shame to hear that students from all over the country have been through this emotional turmoil due to machine failure. The government must review the whole process."

With his office bombarded with complaints from across the country, Education Minister Tilaye Gete Ambaye (PhD) promised earlier this week to address concerns. "As we receive complaints about your Scholastic Aptitude Test result, NEAEA will issue a second appearance and get back to you," he said on his Twitter account.

Until today the official NEAEA
website has notice explaining to high school seniors who have changed outcomes for their School Skills
exam has been republished on its website, but it has so far refused
acknowledge that there may be similar blunders for other exams.

No word so far is responsible for the failure that affected hundreds of thousands of high school students, and NEAEA has not clarified whether to revise other exams. But on social media sites like Facebook, members of several student groups continued to publish claims that other topics such as English, math and civics exams also needed revision. Many also post, on a case-by-case basis, an irregular grading showing results of students who scored 100 in some subjects, noted shocking results as low as 10 and 20. But the ministry remains confident that the technical errors occurred only in the grading of School Aptitude. Of course, many are not convinced. AS

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