Monday, January 07, 2013

Labasa students given O for Biology

from w
Here is a disturbing story about students from a Labasa secondary school who were given zero marks for their Year 12 Biology. The charge was cheating after an anonymous tip-off.  Seems very strange to me. If even one of them is innocent, then that might spoil his or her chance of higher education. If  I had a grandchild who was one of the students involved I would certainly want a clear and conclusive investigation. Has the story really been thoroughly investigated?  Here's how one media outlet put it.

Lal stands by zero mark, 11 to protest

Eight students and their families come together to collectively fight against what they claim to be victimisation by the Ministry of Education on the students of Labasa Sangam College who received zero marks in biology in the Fiji Seventh Form Examination last year. Photo: JOELENE TUIMOALA
The Ministry of Education stands by its decision to give zero marks to the eleven biology students of Labasa Sangam College for alleged cheating in their seventh form examinations.
But the group has responded that the ministry’s claims they copied work are baseless and based on an anonymous allegation. They have threatened to go on a hunger strike over the ministry’s action. They say the way they were seated during the exam made what is claimed impossible.
Permanent Secretary for Education Doctor Brij Lal said: “No decision is made without investigations. We have made our investigations based on the Ministry of Education, National Heritage, Culture and Arts Policy on External Examinations and Assessments.
“This is not the first time this has happened to the school. They had a similar case in 2011 where a large number of students were awarded zero.”
Under 6.1.20 the policy titled “Malpractice” states that any reported case of malpractice during an examination can lead to disqualification and the award of zero mark in the subject concerned or the whole examination. Such a disqualification is made within reasonable time after careful consideration of the evidence provided to him or her in connection with the misconduct.
Doctor Brij Lal has advised students to learn to be honest with their school work  and people around the country should understand their stand on the issue.
The eleven biology students have threatened to go on a hunger strike from next Monday if the ministry does not reverse its decision.
They are also seeking the intervention of the Prime Minister in this matter.
The group that includes two school duxes, Kavneel Chand and Ram Singh Jnr,  claim allegations of copying made against them by the Ministry of Education during the examination last year were baseless.
The group, who claimed they were seated in such an arrangement that it was difficult to copy, were worried about their future.
Speaking on behalf of the parents, Rajesh Lal said 10 of the students who received zeroes in their biology paper came from cane farming backgrounds.
“My plea to relevant authorities is to please look into the matter with all eyes open, because they are also jeopardising the bright future of these 11 students and their families,” Mr Lal, a taxi driver, pleaded.
The eleven students seeking the Prime Minister’s intervention are:
1 Kavneel Pravinesh Chand, 2 Kirti Kavita Chand, 3 Ram Singh Junior, 4 Shayal Kumar, 5 Arvin Lal, 6 Nathaneal Caleb Lal, 7 Edleen Masbin Nisha, 8 Farasha Fazleen Nisha, 9 Prashika Anandita Raj, 10 Swastika Swamy, 11 Priyanka Bhavika Goundar

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Dreams on hold

Tuesday, January 08, 2013
THE intervention of Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and the Education Ministry has warded off a possible hunger strike by a group of parents and students in Labasa yesterday.
The proposed strike came in the wake of the ministry’s decision to award the students zero for their Fiji Seventh Form Examination biology paper last year.
Yesterday the group said they would resort again to a strike if no action was taken by Friday.
The aggrieved party’s spokesman, Rajesh Lal, said they decided to suspend the hunger strike out of respect for the quick response by the ministry and the Prime Ministers Office, saying they would continue with their initial plans if no action is taken on their complaints by Friday.
Amid the group that converged on Labasa Sangam (SKM) College compound was school Form Seven dux, Kavneel Chand, who said his dream of becoming a doctor had gone down the drain by the ministry’s decision to award him a zero for his biology exam.
“I once dreamt of being a doctor to help my sickly parents since my mother is suffering from hypertension and my father is a patient of a heart attack, but that dream hangs on the line now,” said Kavneel.
His father, Rajesh Chand, said Kavneel’s unblemished school report spoke volumes of his abilities and a zero for biology was something they could not come to terms with.
“We plead with the ministry to please reconsider their decision and look into the matter seriously before deciding to crush the dream of our children,” Mr Chand said.
Another restless parent Umesh Kumar said his only daughter was a bright student and had performed exceptionally well during previous examinations scoring a total mark of 88 in her annual biology exam. “We still cannot accept the fact that she received a zero in her biology paper during the Fiji Seventh Form Examinations,” he said.
Group spokesman Mr Lal confirmed they would continue with the planned hunger strike if the situation remained unchanged by Friday.
“We have a few parents from as far as Bua and support has been flowing in from around the country and even overseas which is overwhelming” said Mr Lal.
“We thank the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Education’s quick response to our plea as this is our only hope and the hope of our children’s bright future.”
Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro also confirmed they would monitor the situation at the school

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