Stress mounts for Mauritanian students as bac exams loom
By Mohamed Yahya Ould Abdel Wedoud for Magharebia in Nouakchott – 10/06/09
Mauritanian students who await the start of the baccalaureate examinations on Tuesday (June 30th) have a preview of what to expect; they took practice tests from May 18th to 21st.
While results of the mock exams have not yet been officially released, educators who took part in the grading process told Magharebia that success rates are higher this year.
"The mock exams ran successfully across the nation. More than 37,000 students took them. I think those recent exams have managed to reassure students that they will pass the bac exams, widely known as the tension exams," said Al Man Ould Mahfouz, director of bac courses in a number of secondary schools.
A glimpse at what is coming may, for some students, only exacerbate the anxiety. For parents, as their children prepare to face the real exams, there is little to do but wait. They offer whatever help they can to reduce the stress.
Al Alia is doing her utmost to help her daughters overcome panic over the bac exams, the milestone in the Mauritanian educational hierarchy. "I have two girls who are sitting for the bac exams for the first year. I took charge of all the house chores all on my own so they could dedicate all their time to studying."
She even gave them "the biggest room in the house for review and equipped it with all school needs". Al Ma'loum Ould Al Naha, principal of an independent school, told Magharebia, "We appreciate the huge role played by fathers and mothers. They spend huge amounts of money on education, especially during those last few weeks."
While some mothers create fully-stocked study spaces and spend family funds on bac prep, others see mental and emotional support as equally important.
"Many students were not psychologically prepared for the exams, where the police and guards are all unfamiliar to them. This is ultimately bound to have an impact on their results," Khadij said.
"I have a son and a daughter – Ahmed and Hayat – who are currently preparing for their exams. They spend most of their time studying. However, their score in the mock exams was not as high as we hoped. I realised that lack of concentration could be the cause," she noted.
Khadij and her husband are now trying to convince their children to relax.
Fadel is a father of three children, two of whom passed the bac exams last year. Now it's the third one's turn.
"I was constantly thinking about concentration and advising children not to be hasty. It is not uncommon for find smart students who flunk the bac, whereas other less smart ones pass, Fadel said.
Maghrebia brought parents' concerns about stress and focus before examination division chief Al Yidally Ould Mekt.
"We are taking that into consideration," he responded. "That is why the ministry is keen on holding at least two mock exams to the benefit of bac students."
"The goal is to help familiarise students with the bac ambience," he added.
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