Somali government’s response to school exams cheating scandal causes controversy among regional states

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Arday ku jirta fasal/Sawir keyd ah/Ergo

(ERGO) – The Somali Federal Government’s decision to cancel and repeat national high school exams following a social media cheating scam has caused much concern among schools and regional authorities.

Education minister Abdullahi Goddah Barre said fresh exams would be held from 27 May for five days under a social media blackout, after local radio station Dalsan in Mogadishu exposed the alleged sale of exam papers on social media.

The head of Puntland state’s examinations department, Ahmed Sahid, said the tight timeline set was not realistic.

“I was shocked to hear the minister say the new exams will take place on 27 May. We only have 13 days. He should have said June 27,” Sahid said.

“I am afraid one of two things may happen: the same people who conducted the previous exams may be re-appointed without any background checks, and we might have the same scenario. The quality of the new exams will be compromised because of the short timelines.”

Others have questioned the rationale for cancelling the whole exams.

Hassan Adan, who heads private schools in Baidoa, South West State, told Radio Ergo the federal government should have cancelled only the questionable outstanding papers that were leaked.

“We already finished six papers over three days,” said Adan. “The government should have made changes to the remaining papers. Our complaint is that the government is saying the students have to retake every subject they have done already.”

Adan said the government was justified in cancelling the exams but should have been more considerate. Those involved in the leaking and sale of papers must be investigated and punished.

“We did our part in preparing these children through 12 years in school and so we have a right to complain to the government, although we cannot do anything about it since the government has the final say,” Adan stated.

Hirshabelle state government declared that it would no longer enter its students for the joint national standardised exams.

The director of Hirshabelle state education ministry, Mohamed Moalim Kulmiye, called for the decentralisation of exams in the future. He said they would abide by the federal government’s revised schedule this year but for the last time.

“The President of Hirshabelle mentioned that the state will no longer rely on the Federal Government when it comes to exams from next year and will conduct its own exams,” Mohamed said.

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