Tighter supervision planned for Algeria's 2009 bac
By Mouna Sadek for Magharebia in Algiers – 29/05/09
With little more than a week remaining until Algeria's baccalaureate exams, the Ministry of Education is busy ensuring all the last-minute preparations are completed. Officials have taken measures to guarantee transparency, prevent cheating, and avoid mistakes in the printed materials.
Minister of Education Boubekeur Benbouzid said the highest priority this year is to avoid repeating mistakes from previous years. The authorities launched an anti-cheating programme several years ago, and the monitors will be back to ensure the rules are respected in 2009.
"Directors of exam centres will all be assigned outside of their provinces, and [none] will be posted to the schools where they normally work," Benbouzid said at a press briefing on Monday (May 25th).
Three proctors will be assigned to each exam location: two high school teachers and one middle school teacher. Instructors will not be allowed to supervise exams attended by members of their families.
To ensure the legitimacy of exam scoring, the ministry has set up nine special centres that will receive exam papers and render them anonymous. After the names are removed, the exams will be forwarded to marking centres.
For the 2009 baccalaureate, the ministry will deploy some 90,000 supervisors and observers in 1,578 exam centres, and 23,000 markers in 40 scoring centres.
The Ministry of Education also hopes to avoid the premature release of results by collating and publishing them in a single location. This new office will replace the 40 centres spread across the country that used to do this job.
"Only this body will know the final results and will be authorised to publish them on July 10th," said Minister Benbouzid. "It will announce the results and issue all provisional certificates, diplomas, and statistics."
Officials have also taken steps to assist students in their pre-exam studies. The ministry sent a team of psychologists this week to help students manage their stress during the review period and to explain what they should do on test day.
Each school will have a psychologist who will make daily visits to classrooms, to distribute useful information to students, and to reassure them.
To ensure that the exam – which is crucial to the future of the candidates – will run as smoothly as possible, the Algerian government allocated 2.6 billion dinars to cover all expenses.
Some candidates are hopeful, while others are sceptical. Imane, 17, said she feels reassured by the fact that "the authorities are taking the bac seriously".
"It's our future that's at stake," she continued. "That can't be taken lightly, but I don't understand why it would be a bad thing to find out the results early. I hope we’ll be able to find out our marks on the Internet, as in previous years."
Imane hopes to achieve an average of at least 13/20, so that she can follow her dream of becoming a doctor.
Her mother, Safia, is apparently unimpressed by the tough measures taken to prevent cheating. "I get the feeling they're taking our kids for plagiarists... as a teacher myself I have had to monitor baccalaureate exams. Cases of cheating are very rare," she told Magharebia.
The opinions of secondary teachers are just as divided. "It's a case of déjà vu," said Mr. Aouchar, a maths teacher in Algiers. "Every year we hear new and old promises, but last year there were still mistakes in question papers."
No fewer than 444,514 candidates (263,330 schoolchildren and 181,184 private candidates) will take this year's exams. Last year 53% of candidates passed the important exam, which opens the door to university study.
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