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Cyprus Education

MPs slam education minister for not ordering probe into physics debacle

By Andria Kades

The minister of education was wrong not to order a disciplinary probe after a question on the physics school leaving exam was not phrased correctly, lawmakers heard on Wednesday.

During a session at the House education committee, MPs demanded that a disciplinary investigation should go ahead so as to get to the bottom of who was responsible for the error.

Following complaints that question 11 on the physics paper had not been phrased properly, the ministry decided it would give the points to all students.

Chairman of the committee and Disy MP Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis said “some things cannot happen – or be repeated – and be treated as if nothing is going on without investigating them or taking any action.”

“We demand a disciplinary investigation. It is wrong that the minister didn’t immediately order one,” the MP said in statements to reporters.

Hadjiyiannis said ministry employees whose job it was to set the exam questions should not be able to escape any consequences and as such, more transparency is needed.

“We need to know who these people are that made the mistake. Because if we don’t and then all of a sudden (it is found) that one is responsible for a series of mistakes then something else is going on.”

Though those people may not need be known before exams, it does not mean they should not be known after the exams, he added.

Hadjiyiannis said safeguards should be in place to ensure that if errors do crop up, they should be noticed before the papers are finalised to be given to students.

Head of the ministry’s secondary education unit Kyprianos Louis told MPs that that indeed, there had been a mistake in one question but no other error had cropped up in the remaining 31 exams.

“Mistakes will happen. This happens all over world,” he said.

An academic on the advisory committee for exam evaluations at the ministry Mary Koutselini said it was clear the question was wrong but there was a broader issue in that a similar exercise – or even the same one – was in the students’ text books.

“How right it was to include this exercise on the paper, we will not get in to.”


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