Serbian school finals test run fraught with problems

NEWS 23.04.2020 22:31
Source: N1

The test run of the final exams for eighth graders has been fraught with problems which the education authorities claimed were caused by overcrowding of servers and parents reporting that their child could not log on to the exams web site.

The final exams for eighth graders are also entrance exams for high schools and are traditionally held over three days – separate tests of language, math and a combined test.  

Elementary and high school children have been on a home-schooling regime since schools were closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Elementary school pupils had lessons broadcast on the state TV and did homework on an Internet platform while high school students only did homework online.  

The test run for the elementary school finals started with problems on the first day when a number of pupils could not log onto the system for the language test and the same happened on day two for the math test.  

The exams were supposed to be accessible from 8:00 am. Sources at the Education Ministry told N1 that they decided to extend the test run and added that the language test was repeated for kids who could not access it. The ministry decided to recommend different times for kids in different parts of the country – pupils in Vojvodina were given a slot between 8:00 am and noon, Belgrade pupils from noon to 4:00 pm and everyone else from 4:00 pm to 9:30 pm.  

Jasna Jankovic, spokeswoman for the United Teachers’ Unions, warned that there were problems with the online schooling system before the test run. “I expected the ministry to solve the technical problems that appeared on the first test run on April 14 but we are seeing the same problems that we had before the coronavirus. This shows that we do not have the capacity for online final exams,” she said.  

Elementary school finals have been dogged by problems since 2013 when the math test was stolen and the exam was annulled, forcing the education minister to resign. Math tests were leaked in 2019 and a reserve test was used but the current Education Minister, Mladen Sarcevic, did not resign.