Education Minister Bandula Gunawardane, yesterday, faulted university academics for what he described as ‘setting question papers outside the scope of the science and math syllabuses’, for the last G.C.E. (Advanced Level) Examination.
Mr. Gunawardane told Daily Mirror that both school and private candidates had found it difficult to answer such questions, and eventually, it had led to a drop in results. He said that only around 40 percent of the students who sat the examination in these two streams had passed.
The minister stressed that questions should be set so that they would be easy for students to fathom.
The Education Ministry has already instructed the Department of Examinations to maintain open communication with question paper setters, and instruct them to stick to the framework of the syllabuses in future.
“We have done this on the past two occasions. Yet the university academics who set the papers have ignored it. They have to be mindful of the syllabuses and the number of periods allotted for teaching them. Also, they should give mind to the textbooks, model questions and answers available to students. In the commerce stream, our instructions had been followed. Therefore as many as 72 percent of the students passed the examination this time,” said Mr. Gunawardane.
Compared to international examinations, he said, Sri Lanka’s Ordinary Level and Advanced Level Examinations are too advanced for the students.
“We want to encourage students to choose science and math for their Advanced Level studies. Currently, only 21 percent of the students choose these two streams. It should be increased to 40 percent. The number opting for the commerce stream should be upped from the present 27 percent to 35 percent. As many as 51 percent of students select the arts stream,” he said.
The Ven. Yalwela Pannasekara, the president of Sri Lanka United Teachers’ Union said the quality of Sri Lanka’s examinations was universally recognised, and, therefore, it was not advisable to make the question papers easier.
“It will increase the number of students who pass the examination, but the quality will be questionable,” he said. (Kelum Bandara)