Touria Prayag's Blog

l’Express Weekly, October 7 2011

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on February 27, 2012

When supervisors refuse to be supervised

Those who are not convinced yet that, as far as respect for institutions, the rule of law or simply rules and regulations, we have hit rock bottom, here’s another example to make you change your mind. And it is not in the political arena.

Everyone knows that a whole arsenal is put in place to transport Cambridge School Certifi cate and Higher School Certifi cate exam papers from the airport to the Mauritius Examination Syndicate ( MES).

Nothing is spared: armoured trucks, top security personnel and heavy escort. The questionnaires are kept in strong rooms specially built for this purpose. Needless to say that there is round the clock security.

Thank you for bearing with me. The tedious introduction above is to drive home to you the extent of effort, amount of resources and money invested to make sure there is not the slightest suspicion of foul play and to assure Cambridge that we are up to the international standards required. Which we are. Except when it comes to supervisors transporting the papers from the MES to the exam centres. Here, all the security measures are relaxed and one single person takes the questionnaires in his own car, keeps them in his possession for up to two hours from the time he receives them at 6am to the time he delivers them at 8am! Let no one read in this a lack of trust in the supervisors. I have always expressed the great respect I have for the teaching profession. However, they are, like all of us, human and therefore exposed to the same temptations and risks. Like all of us, they need to be protected from shouldering such a heavy responsibility alone. More than that, Cambridge has highlighted this weak link and asked for measures to be taken to address the issue. Everywhere else in the world where Cambridge exams are run, exam supervisors unfl inchingly abide by the rules. Here, we ask for the resignation of the Director of the MES! You’ll tell me that the supervisors must have their own reasons. They do. Here they are as expressed at the meeting in which they contested the suggestion of being accompanied to the exam centres.

Some supervisors cannot have someone else sit in their car because they would not be allowed to smoke when they are carrying a passenger.

The longest distance they have to cover perhaps takes one hour! Anyone who cannot hold for that long needs urgent help.

They would not be comfortable in their car with another person sitting next to them. Those who thought that cars were made to transport fi ve people, this will prove you wrong. As for those who are campaigning for car pooling to alleviate our transport problems, forget it! Their spouses would not like the idea of them having someone of the opposite sex in their cars. Any matrimonial counsellors onboard? Aware of the staggering challenges, constraints and struggles the teachers face, we have systematically made public their side of the story. We have always believed and advocated that efforts to improve any aspect of education are doomed to failure until teachers’ views and voices are included in the attempts. We sincerely feel now that the move of some of the supervisors, backed by the cock- and- bull stories they put forward, is leading us away from our educational aspirations. We cannot support them in this. I hope they do not get the support of the profession.

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