Bac exams kick off in Mauritania with optimism
By Mohamed Yahya Ould Abdel Wedoud for Magharebia in Nouakchott – 30/06/09
Thousands of Mauritanian students sat for the first day of baccalaureate exams Monday (June 29th). According to many students, it was a good start.
"Questions were based on the curricula," said math student Aisha, 22. "Therefore, there were no surprises. The first day is the most important because it is the day of the basic courses."
More than 37,000 students are taking the exams this year, according to the ministry of national education. They will be distributed to 95 centres, 45 of which are based in the capital of Nouakchott.
Early Monday, students flocked into examination centres to complete administrative and security procedures before the exams. No technical problems or otherwise were reported Monday, said Mohamad Salem, one of the supervisors. "The ministry took all necessary measures. Also, supervisory committees did their job as they should."
Minister of National Education Ahmed Ould Bah visited a number of bac centres to oversee test conditions. He encouraged the students and wished them success.
"Everyone is aware of the importance of the bac, being students' gateway to higher education," Ould Bah said during the visit.
The exams this year mark the end of an era, the minister continued, since it is the last year students will be tested under the previous decades-old educational system.
The education ministry is working on reviewing and updating a new system. Next year, according to reforms passed in 2001, all scientific subjects will be taught in foreign languages. Also, languages will be given priority in the curricula.
This may be the reason why the exams promise to be relatively easier this year, some teachers said. Ahmad, a science teacher in the city of Nouadhibou, said that he taught biology to students from different branches for years, and "I have never seen an easier exam. This is perhaps because exams this year are the last under the old system."
At exam centres, mothers were waiting outside, eager to learn how their children did.
Khdij, 50, from the city of Kifa, said she came with her daughter for moral support. "I do not want her to be scared or alone, since that will compromise her performance in the exams," she said.
Other mothers do the same thing but for other reasons. "I accompanied my daughters to the exam centre in the morning and in the afternoon to make sure they did not run into any problems related to administrative and regulatory measures. For instance, I personally checked out their examination identification cards," said a 52-year-old mother from Nouakchott.
But even with the family's moral support, many students were still worried. They heard from relatives and friends who did not pass the exams before and they grew anxious. Maryam, 18, is one of them.
"Actually", Maryam said, "I am a little worried. I know some friends who studied a lot, but still could not obtain the bac, which naturally shook my confidence."
Others are a little more confident.
"The exam today was exactly as we expected it to be," one student said. "Therefore, I feel I am getting closer and closer to my dream, which is to get the bac and then study what I have liked since I was a child."
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