Cabinet leans towards giving original English II marks back to students  

Education minister says final decision from BCSEA coming in next one or two days


Though no minister in the monthly, meet the press, said it explicitly yesterday, there was a clear preference from the cabinet and the PM to give the students their original English II marks and then go after the guilty culprits.

The Prime Minister, Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay said that based on the cabinet’s request to the Bhutan Council for School Education Assessment (BCSEA) board there were three options before the BCSEA.

Meanwhile the BCSEA Chairman who is the Education Minister Lyonpo Mingbo Dukpa sat a few seats away listening intently to the PM.

Lyonchhen said that one option was to use the English I marks for English II, the second was to redo the entire examinations, and the third option is to go ahead with the assessment and give marks to those students who had no access to the leaked questions.

While the PM seemingly presented all three options, he then methodically went about showing why the first two options were not desirable while indirectly endorsing the third option.

On the current option of giving English I marks for English II, Lyonchhen said that even if the decision was technically sound it would forever create doubt in the minds of thousands of students that they could have done better, if they had got their original English II marks.

He said, “Almost every child not qualified for colleges or scholarships by one or two percentage points are going to say that the ‘government robbed me of my chance’ and they are genuinely going to believe it. We cannot allow our children to live their life like this, as throughout their life, they will blame this result.”

He said that the current decision had certain risks for affecting the lives of many children.

One the second option of redoing the exams the PM said that apart from the use of government resources it would be irresponsible for the government and BCSEA to ask students to travel back to their exam centers from all parts of the country.

He said that some students had even already left the country on pilgrimages with their parents.

The PM pointed out that there is also a possibility that despite the best efforts of the government all students would not know about the re-examinations and so they could miss the crucial exams. He said it was also conversely possible that some students may not come for the exams and say they did not know about it.

“Even if every child tries their best to get to school it would be very difficult as they will have to go collect their text books and even if they have text books they may not have exercise books as they could have been thrown away and recycled,” said the PM.

Then, in what seemed was an indirect support for the third option, the PM said that first of all the whole paper was not leaked but it was only some questions leaked and secondly it was not widespread.

“If it was widespread then at least one parent, one student or one teacher would have informed as I don’t believe that we are that corrupt as a nation,” said the PM.

He said that even if the questions were spread through sms most students who received it would think it to be a hoax and ignore it.

“All things considered I think the possibility that the leaked questions had a huge impact on the results of the English II exam is very small,” said the PM.

However, me made it clear that regardless of the decision taken, the government was determined to find out each and every person involved in distribution of the questions and penalize them be they students, staff or teachers.

“Otherwise the credibility of the system is at stake,” stressed the PM.

Meanwhile the Education Minister said that the BCSEA for the past two days had been re-discussing the issue based on the cabinet’s request. He said that final decision will come in a day or two on the issue.

In response to a question the PM also gave a hint of what is to come if BCSEA does not need the cabinet’s ‘request.’ The PM said, “They have the liberty not to listen to our request and if they don’t listen then the cabinet has certain powers and we will be guided by that.”

The Education Minister on his part gave the whole background of the decision taken by the BCSEA from 13th December 2014 onwards after it was found that the questions had been leaked.

He said that a detailed investigation was done on the leak and the facts were established. He said of the four options the BCSEA had gone with the current option to avoid re-examinations which would pose problems for everyone both economically and socially.

The minister said that the English II marks were based on the English I marks as first they were related subjects, secondly a positive co-relation study between the marks in the two subjects for the past three years showed a close co-relation of 0.773 and thirdly those who did well in English I also did well in English II.

The PM said that technically the current decision of the BCSEA was sound but he said that other considerations (mentioned above) must be taken into account.

Lyonchhen said the cabinet took up the matter with BCSEA as there was a public outcry and the cabinet was genuinely concerned.

Capturing the unenviable position of the government in this situation, the PM said that whatever the decision none of it would be acceptable to all the people of Bhutan.

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