O’Level pass rate improves 10 percent on 2011

The Education Ministry has announced a 10 percent improvement in Cambridge O’Level examination pass rates for 2012.

President Mohamed Waheed claimed the results were due to education sector improvements, while former Education Minister Musthafa Luthfy claimed that these policies were enacted under the previous government.

The Education Ministry announced 2012’s Cambridge O’Level (grade 10) examination results on Saturday (May 25), noting that 31 students achieved global top 10 rankings, with five of these students having the “highest results worldwide” in various subject areas, according to local media.

The five students who achieved O’Level scores categorised as some of the “highest in the world” were presented with a prize and newly created presidential medal by President Waheed.

Additionally, 426 students achieved local top 10 rankings, meaning they achieved high scores in various subjects compared to other test takers in the Maldives.

“The number of students who passed five subjects was at 46 percent last year, whilst in 2011 it was at 37 percent,” said Education Minister Dr Asim Ahmed.

Receiving a ‘C’ or above in five subjects is considered a pass.

The the number of students who passed eight subjects increased two percent, from 17 in 2011 to 19 percent in 2012.

Overall 8,456 students in the Maldives participated in the 2012 exams, an increase from 6,100 in 2011.

Announcement of marks delayed

Preliminary results for the 2012’s Cambridge O’Level examination were not released sooner due to “difficulties” in analysis, the Ministry of Education said earlier this year, despite claiming “one of the highest pass rates to date”.

O’Level exams began in early October and concluded in late November 2012, the Education Ministry’s Department of Examinations (DPE) Director General Ibrahim Shakeeb told Minvian News.

“This is just how the process is; 90 days after the final exam session the preliminary results are available. Candidates can then ask to have their marks rechecked, which takes about a month,” Shakeeb explained.

“Students have a week or two to apply for rechecking, once the [preliminary] results are issued,” he continued. “Then the exams are sent to Cambridge.”

Preliminary O’Level exam results were issued to students at the end of January 2013.

“There were quite a large number of requests for rechecking, so it took Cambridge over a month to respond,” said Shakeeb.

“Final results are only issued after the recheck is complete. Cambridge does not release results country by country, rather [marks] are released online, globally,” he noted.

“Three to four months for the process to be completed is the norm,” he added.

Shakeeb told Minivan News earlier this year that the recheck process was ongoing and estimated it would be completed around late March.

Students are currently “in the middle” of the A’Level exam period, which began May 7 and will conclude June 24, according to Shakeeb.

Former Education Minister Shifa Mohamed previously claimed it was a change in Ministry of Education practice for preliminary O’Level results not to be publicly disclosed prior to the final results.

Preliminary Cambridge exam results arrive in January or February, with little difference between these and the final results, she explained.

“Analysis of these findings should only require three days,” Shifa said at the time.

Previous education policies

“The current government would not have been able to do anything in the period of time between coming to power [Febuary 2012] and when students sat for the exams [October 2012],” former Education Minister Dr Musthafa Luthfy told Minivan News today.

“The high exam pass percentage rate is due to what we did when we were in government,” he claimed. “Before us, there was no target set.”

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had aimed to raise O’Level pass rates from 27 to 60 percent in five years by implementing a holisitc educational policy involving multiple strategies, Luthfee explained.

The quality of Maldives school education and exam pass rates will continue to improve if the current administration abides by the policy guidelines put in place by the MDP government, he emphasised.

“There are several strategies which should be included in all aspects of education. Working on one aspect will not improve exam scores or educational quality,” said Luthfee.

“We rapidly established single session schooling for 55 percent of institutions to provide children the opportunity to engage in opportunities outside of the classroom and develop their character through extracurricular activities,” he explained. “This enabled improved student discipline and motivation.”

“Educational standards were also improved, by developing ‘smart school’ indicators to assess teachers, school authorities, and the Education Ministry,” he continued. “Previously there were no assessment standards.”

“Educational management – classroom and school – was enhanced, which included institutionalising mandatory inservice teacher training each term,” he added. “The education system was also decentralised, and school boards were developed to bring parents into the decision making process, which improved teacher and parent motivation.”

“We also supported private higher education and established the Maldives National University (MNU),” said Luthfy.

He claimed these policies have not been maintained under Waheed’s administration.

“This year there was no money to continue the single session schooling,” Luthfy said.

“If they continue to dismantle the strategies we’ve set, exam results will not continue to improve,” he noted. “However, if they abide by these strategies then quality of education and motivation will continue to increase.”

“The vigour of the policy program made the public aware of the importance of education and the importance of exam pass rates, as well as other educational aspects,” he declared.

The Education Ministry was not responding to enquiries at time of press.


Dhivehi and science subjects spearhead boost in O-level results, says Education Ministry

O-level results for 2010 continued a general trend of improvement, with particular gains in science subjects says Deputy Minister Education Dr Abdulla Nazeer.

Of the approximately 6700 students who sat the international standardised high school exams last year, 35 percent passed five subjects, up on 32 percent in 2009 and 27 percent in 2008.

“Out of 216 schools, 100 performed better last year at O’levels,” Dr Nazeer said. “Also, the number of schools achieving over 60 percent in five subjects rose from 9 to 15.”

In addition 197 students received perfect marks of 100, Dr Nazeer said, and were awarded A* – a new grade introduced this year. 330 students were in line to receive top achievers awards, he said.

“Another significant result was a drop in U-grades [ungraded], which is one of the biggest issues facing schools,” Dr Nazeer said. “It’s been dropping since 2009, from 22 percent in 2008 to 19 percent in 2009 and 16 percent in 2010.”

Most major subjects showed a positive trend in results except for arts, geography and history, Dr Nazeer said, “subjects which are only taken by few students.”

Dr Nazeer noted “a huge increase” in science results, including chemistry, physics and maths, across the country.”

Dhivehi results improved 14 percent this year, “but unfortunately Islam didn’t do as well as expected, with a 1.5 percent decline, continuing a seven year trend.”

He suggested a further emphasis on Islam and Dhivehi at O-level. Regarding the Ministry steering committee’s controversial suggestion that both these subjects be made optional at A-level, Dr Nazeer said “we have got the technical advice to finalise the curriculum framework, but the political decision has not been made yet. We are sending Cabinet a paper towards the end of next month.”

While education was not a government manifesto pledge, Dr Nazeer noted, “I don’t think it will be difficult to achieve the goal of 60 percent pass in five subjects by 2013.”

Further focus in 2011 would be the development of “holistic education”, he said, explaining that this represented the promotion of physical education and extracurricular clubs, as well as leadership activities and ensuring students had the “opportunity to use technology in the classroom.”

The Ministry was also submitting a paper to Cabinet outlining a proposal to encourage students failing five subjects to remain in the schooling system for a further two years, with the opportunity to gain certificates and foundation diplomas.

The Education Ministry has also revealed an Rf 38 million (US$3 million) design for a replacement for Arabiyya school, after the school was closed following the collapse of a wall last year.

Funds for the new seven-storey building, to be built opposite Ameeniyya School, will be included in next years budget, Director at the Education Ministry Mohamed Yousuf told newspaper Haveeru.

The proposed structure includes 28 classrooms, computer lab, library, prayer room and a hall for 400-500 students, Haveeru noted, adding that the building would be completed by the end of the year and students transferred in time for the next academic year.

Bids for the project will be opened on February 17 after a pre-bid meeting on February 7, the Finance Ministry has stated.