Students in a classroom [Illustrative].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Education Ministry responded to anger over new matriculation guidelines with a directive on Monday to have delivery services bring the exam questionnaires directly to approximately half the schools in the country.
The rest of the schools will send two representatives to sign for the packages of questionnaires at the post office and will be held accountable for their safety until the start of the exam.
The past two weeks have seen four matriculation exams leaked over social media, sparking outcry from students, parents and teachers, and changes in ministry guidelines.
The National Parents Association slammed the ministry’s interim guidelines that were in effect from last week until Monday evening, which mandated a 45-minute lockdown for students before the start of each exam while the questionnaires were transmitted to schools electronically and printed during that time.
The association’s statement expressed regret that there had been no effort by the ministry to consult and cooperate with the association.
“The decision about the new guidelines is far-reaching and presents severe harm to students during the most sensitive and stressful time for them, the matriculation period,” the statement said.
The association had demanded that the decision be frozen and a new discussion be held involving the parents.
The newest ministry guidelines were put together after a series of marathon discussions with experts and various external bodies that looked into a number of different options to ensure the integrity of the exams. After discovering that half the schools could be reached by messenger service, the ministry decided to put into place the new guidelines that eliminate the lockdown that was deemed harmful by the parents association.
The ministry announced that the newest guidelines were formed with the cooperation of local authorities, representatives of school principals, teachers, students, and parents. The new guidelines will go into effect from this coming Wednesday, applying to the math matriculation exam.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett said “we are at the height of the matriculation season and we need to make decisions in real time, while ensuring that the exams are done in an honest and fair way.”
Students will still have to hand in their phones 30 minutes before the start of the exam. The old guidelines regarding the electronic transfer of the questionnaires will be used as a backup in case of leaks.
The ministry emphasized that the integrity of the exams and the right of students to take the exams is of utmost importance, and it is doing all it can do to ensure that the exams will go forward on schedule and with no further leaks.
“It must be noted, unfortunately, that the fear of questionnaires being leaked over social media still exists,” the ministry stated and continued to ask schools to have facilities available to receive electronically transmitted exams and print them on site.