Phùng Xuân Nhạ
HÀ NỘI — The education ministry will not terminate the high school graduation exam in the next few years.
That was the message from minister Phùng Xuân Nhạ yesterday after one of the biggest cheating scandals in recent years.
Reporting to the Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc on the second day of the monthly cabinet meeting, Nhạ took his responsibility over what happened in Sơn La and Hà Giang provinces this year, saying that the ministry would be tough on any violations discovered.
An investigation carried out after mounting public pressure last month discovered that the scores of 330 tests of 114 students in Hà Giang were raised higher than the real results.
It also found evidence of outside interference into the scores of several multiple-choice tests in Sơn La. Five local education officials were arrested so far.
But the minister said: “We can’t deny the whole exam because of those wrongdoings.”.
Since 2015, Việt Nam started merging the high school exit and university entry exams into one, hoping to make test time less stressful for the students.
It was also implemented to ease financial pressures when most of the students had had to travel to big cities like Hà Nội and HCM City where the majority of the universities are based, Nhạ said.
Before the merging decision, there had been different ideas on how to reform the examinations, he said.
Some suggested discarding the high school exam but keeping the university entry one, which was infeasible as it would be against the Law on Education and might even drag down the educational quality bar as the students could graduate without any tests.
Others raised the idea of letting localities in charge of the high school exams, but that was dismissed due to concerns over possible unfairness among localities which tended to run after records and achievements and only a few universities could afford to organise their own exams, Nhạ said.
The high school graduation-cum-university entrance exam, or commonly called the two-in-one exam, was the best option, he said.
Regarding the “very severe wrongdoings” in Hà Giang and Sơn La, the minister said the Ministry of Education and Training conducted thorough reviews on the examination procedures and found shortcomings in the system. They included security faults in the multiple-choice test scoring software and the lack of inspection and monitoring from the ministry over the exams in the localities.
Nhạ promised technical improvements to the faulty software while the ministry was considering new ways to score the students’ tests in order to ensure transparency and fairness. The ministry would also clearly regulate the responsibilities of the localities, the universities and the examiners in the examination.
He added that because of the same reasons, the high school graduation exam should not be abandoned.
“We will consider thoroughly but the ministry is of the opinion that removing the national high school exam in the next few years is infeasible. Instead, we will try to make the exam more honest and accurately portray the educational quality of each locality,” Nhạ said. — VNS