Massive University entrance exam scandal compels ministry to reject results for several subject matters

Ethiopian government shut down the internet in the first week of June 2019 so as to prevent foul play as high school students in the preparatory class (grade 12) were writing the university entrance exam. As it turns out, the results of exams administered in the last two days demonstrate that there was an exam scandal, and the ministry of education is rejecting the results of those exams.

exam scandal  _ Ethiopia
Ministry of education authorities during the press conference. Source : FBC

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education announced on Wednesday that it will only accept results of only four of Ethiopian Higher Education Entrance Examination (EHEEE) that were administered during the first two days of the exam sometime in June of 2019.

The ministry was joined by education offices of regional states as well as NEAEA (National Educational Assessment and Examinations Agency) authorities during the press conference.

The ministry is rejecting the exam results of subjects matters administered in the last two days of the exam because the results demonstrated “inflation,” in the words of the authorities in the Ministry of education and National Educational Assessment and Examinations Agency.

Accordingly, students’ entrance to institutions of higher learning will be determined based on subject matters of English, Aptitude, Mathematics, Geography, and Physics.

In the education system that is phasing out soon, according to ministry policy change announced last month, students have the option of joining either social science or natural science streams in the preparatory classes of Grade 11 and 12.

Those who are in Social Science stream take the subject matters of social studies, geography, and history along with what ministry labeled as general subjects English, Mathematics and Physical education.  Optional foreign and national languages are also offered.

And those in the natural science stream take biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. For this group, English, social studies and physical education are considered as general subjects.

The screenshot below from the National Educational Assessment and Examinations Agency website demonstrate subject matters for the two academic streams in preparatory education .  

According to a report by Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC), heads of education offices from Amhara and Oromo regional states have stated that the measures that are taken to address the problems in connection with problems that led to “inflation” are acceptable but it was unclear from FBC report if heads of education offices from other regions including Tigray did have agreed in the measure.

However, an inquiry commission that is accountable to the office of the Prime Minister (Abiy Ahmed) is established to investigate the problems “within the shortest possible time.”

Dr. Getahun Garedew, from Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Regional State (SNNPR), is named as the chairperson of the inquiry committee.

The decision from the ministry has outraged parents as well as students. It has also generated heated debates on social media. For some political pundits, the incident demonstrates how the ethnic-based system in Ethiopia has put governance into jeopardy. Others see it as a problem related to the “weakness” of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration.

An inquiry into the scandal is expected to answer the question as to what really happened and how?

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