Tuesday,21 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1436, (28 March - 3 April 2019)
Tuesday,21 May, 2019
Issue 1436, (28 March - 3 April 2019)

Ahram Weekly

Oops, connection failed

Technical glitches plagued the Ministry of Education’s attempt at rolling out its first electronic exams, reports Reem Leila


Students had difficulty taking the trial exams on the tablet
Students had difficulty taking the trial exams on the tablet

Social media was rife with jokes this week about the failure of grade 10 students to take their first exams on their new computer tablets provided by the government. Use of the tablet and the internet are part of a new education system launched this year. It is a trial phase being implemented only in 10th grade. Once operative, the system will be extended to other grades in the future.

Some 650,000 grade 10 students were scheduled to sit for their first trial exams using the tablet this week, but connection problems prevented them from accessing the exam’s server. Though the problem was resolved on Monday, Minister of Education Tarek Shawki said students did not have to take the exam on the server but could take questions from the ministry’s Website and answer them on paper. Shawki said what was more important was that students try out the new exam format and answer the new types of questions. He stressed that the electronic format of examinations was just a means, not an end, and that it was a way of ensuring the transparency and fairness of the correction process as well to prevent cheating.

Despite the minister’s decision to allow students to bypass the electronic exam this week, he said some 300,000 students logged on and took the exam.

Shawki said the ministry will continue to ensure the effectiveness of the system to have it ready for the end of year exams. If it is not 100 per cent ready by then, the electronic examination could be postponed, he said.

Ministry of Education and Technical Education Spokeswoman Amina Khairy said there was no need for parents or students to worry. She said a copy of the exam was available every evening on the ministry’s Website for training purposes. “There must be a trial and error period until the new system is stabilised,” Khairy said while stressing that the test was for training students, not evaluating them, and to measure the system’s performance as well as that of the networks and tablets.

According to Khairy, the experiment aims to monitor “everything very carefully and accurately” to resolve problems before the end of the academic year.

According to the minister, students were free to take the exam any time during a predetermined 12-hour period. Its duration would be calculated from the moment the student logs in on the Website. The students were also free to take the exam from any location they desired — including the comfort of their own home. But if they were to seek the help of others when answering the questions, Shawki said, they should realise that their grades will not reflect their actual ability.

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