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Few Mauritanian students successful in 2009 baccalaureate

By Mohamed Yahya Ould Abdel Wedoud for Magharebia in Nouakchott – 03/08/09

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After weeks of waiting, the Mauritanian Ministry of National Education announced the results of the baccalaureate exams on Wednesday (July 29th) on national radio and the internet. The passing rate was less than 9%.

Of the 37,000 candidates registered for the June examinations, only 35,421 sat for the test. Of that number, just 3,279 – or 8.57% - were successful.

Maryam, 20, is a dual science student who was the only one in her class of 46 to pass the exam. "Thank God. I feel both happy and proud," she said. "I worked so hard for that moment, which I see as critical; it is wonderful to enjoy the fruits of your labour."

She immediately called her mother.

"My daughter's success is a dream I have been waiting for to come true," her mother said. "Now it is a reality that fills me with joy. I will never forget that phone ringing, followed by the happy news."

On Wednesday, bac students from various branches and their parents rushed to public internet cafes and schools to check the results. Others preferred to stay in the comfort of their homes, listening to the radio and hoping their names would be announced with successful students.

"I made it," Omar, 22, yelled with joy. He was a modern literature student and heard his name on the radio. "Thank God. I managed to achieve the dream. Only now can I enjoy my summer vacation."

According to the results announced by the ministry, 3,380 students will sit for a second round of tests on August 3rd, while 10,227 others were ineligible due to poor performance in their preparatory coursework.

Sayed Ahmad Ould Abka, spokesman for the education ministry, said that the results are not yet final because the second round will change the overall figures.

"The success rates are reasonable, more or less," he said, "and we are expecting a tangible rise in the makeup exams."

The exams this year marked the end of the decades-old educational system. Starting next year, students will be taught the updated curricula.

"Since this year is the last under the old system," said Ould Abka, "we invited all students to sit for the exams without try-outs as was the standard practice previously. The majority of them showed very weak performance."

Many students ended up in tears after they received their results. Some blamed the grading process, while others blamed the ministry. Very few blamed themselves.

"The exams were straightforward, and my performance was quite good," said Al Qassem Ould Mohammed, who was very tense and upset because he failed. "Teachers, however, are not often careful in grading examination papers. Therefore, their victims are many. Results are disastrous and far from reality."

His mother was equally angry. "He studied in both public and private schools," she said. "He was supposed to pass, not fail."

Some students were more patient and accepted the results. Al Aliya Bent Al Mustaph was one of them.

Bent Al Mustaph said she was not lucky this year. "It looks like I was not meant to see my dream come true. But it is not the end of the world."

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    Anonymous 2009-8-4

    Good luck to all of those who graduated and to all of those who did not.