Education chief reassures nation

The woman in charge of the education in Samoa has assured members of the public her Ministry is doing their very best to avoid any more problems with exam results.

The assurance comes from the Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, Afamasaga Dr. Karoline Fuata’i.

It follows the decision by the Ministry to recall the results of the Year 13 Samoa Senior Leaving Certificate (S.S.L.C). on the back of complaints from parents and schools. 

The result raised eyebrows among schools due to the inconsistency in marks. It apparently excluded marks from internal assessments. 

In some cases where they were included, the marks were incorrect. The error angered parents and students whose chances of qualifying for the National University of Samoa were at placed at risk.

Apparently, this is not the first time this problem has occurred with results.

But to err is human, according to the Chief Executive Officer.

“You see everything (that) is made by man is prone to errors,” said Afamasaga.

 “You know we are talking about fifty thousand students and five hundred thousand thesis of data." 

 “If there’s an error in the shift of a column, it creates a problem for the analysis."

“So one of the errors was the shifting of a column by the machine and the other error was part of the software. So those errors have been resolved.”

Afamasaga said the error is unfortunate because the Ministry tries its best.

 “We try very much to make sure that we clean the data and it’s of high quality going into the software but these things are bound to happen." 

“So it’s good to have feedback from the schools so that we are aware of what the problems are, and we are able to fix it." 

“There is also a quality assurance process in the Ministry which we try to make sure we minimise problems. But as these things are manmade, there’s always room for errors." 

“And from the errors, we then go back and look at the system and identify the sources of the problem.”

Afamasaga said there were other factors the public needs to be aware of. For instance one of contributing factors to the error was the difference in the number of birth certificates for students.

“The part of the problem is due to the inaccuracy information received from parents. They (parents) think it’s minor but it messes up the system." 

“For example, the different numbers of birth certificates, and multiple names." 

“Because the same number is attached to the birth certificate and if there’s a problem with one of the numbers, then it creates a mess with the other one."

“So we have discussed that it would be better to separate this information from the marks of the students to avoid having errors. 

“And it would also help the parents make sure that their child has a birth certificate and it’s only one birth certificate not multiple birth certificates." 

“Because if you bring in two birth certificates with two different numbers, then we need to sort it out before it gets into the system.”

Asked about the results for this year’s S.S.L.C in comparison to the previous year’s result, Afamasaga said there has been a lot of improvement.

“I don’t have the figures in my head right now,” she said. 

 “But overall, what’s more pleasing is to look at the national result, and look at the improvement from last year." 

“And there has been improvement from last year in terms of results and we should keep our eyes on that." 

“There will be problems, but its problems that once identified, we can resolve for the next twelve months." 

“So one of the things that we are going to do is separate data for the usual information like names, birth dates and birth certificates with the scores.”

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