Students taking the Mathematics paper at this year’s GCE Ordinary Level examination have been the victims of very unfair treatment.
The Department of Education introduced this year a new Mathematics syllabus, designed to help students develop a liking for Mathematics. The idea was to reduce the number of Maths failures at the O/Levels. As much as 59 percent of last year’s GCE O/Level candidates failed in Mathematics.
At this year’s GCE O/L Examination, two similar questions appeared in the Maths papers under both the new and old syllabuses, with different time limits to answer the question.
Students following the old syllabus were given 18 minutes to answer questions for 14 marks;
candidates following the new syllabus were given 12 minutes to answer similar questions for 10 marks.
Under the old syllabus, students had to answer eight questions in three hours, while under the new syllabus they had to answer 10 questions in two hours.
This was very unfair. Even the brightest students found it difficult to answer the question paper.
Mathematics is one of the core subjects of the GCE O/Level examination. The Ministry of Education should have acted more responsibly in formulating this paper. The paper was complex and confusing. Most candidates found it difficult to understand the questions.
It was reported that many of the candidates who took the new syllabus came out of the examination hall with tears in their eyes. Some students fainted during the exam.
In such a situation, it is unfair to blame the teachers. Further, the authorities should know that under the present education system, promotions are automatic. Most Grade 9, 10 and 11 students know little Mathematics. Some students do not know even the multiplication tables and basic addition and subtraction.
Such difficult exam papers discourage students, as well as teachers and parents.