Thirty Students have been stopped from sitting for Edexcel exam
Over 30 students from Asian International School, a leading international school in Colombo, had been stopped from sitting for their public Edexcel exam, held in May-June, last year (2012).
The reason behind the ban was that the management of the school had identified them as students who would not achieve good results at the exam.
Under the assumption that their results would have a negative impact on the school’s overall results and thereby its ratings, the management had stopped the 30 students from sitting for the exam as school candidates. Instead, the school had asked the students to sit for the Edexcel exam privately. A decline in the school’s overall results could have a direct impact on the bottomline of its revenues.
In a letter carried in the “letters to the editor” page in the Daily Mirror, a parent alleged that “the poor children have been told to sit privately because the school does not want to take the blame for perceived bad results.”
“Students of a school who are paying high fees have a right to sit through the school and no principal has the authority to prevent this. The former principal (who is a well-known educationist, writer and a speaker ) had declined to comment saying she was not involved in the running of the school any longer. However she is a director of the school and must therefore share in the blame of this appalling abuse of power,” the parent charged.
The letter also urges the Education Minister to take immediate action against this “unfair decision” made by the management of the school.
Speaking to The Nation, a father of one of the students who had been stopped from sitting for the exam, said, in his son’s class, six students had to sit for the exam as private candidates as the school did not permit them to apply as school candidates.
“At the eleventh hour, they informed us that our students were not permitted to sit for the exam. By the time they informed that, they had charged for the term and the parents had paid a colossal amount of money for their children’s education,” he charged.
“They ‘envisage’ the exam results of students based on their marks at withdrawal exams. If the marks do not satisfy the management, the students will not be permitted to sit for the final exam.”
“The parents whose children are studying in international schools pay a whopping amount of money for their education. Because of that, running an international school has turned out to be a lucrative business. After collecting all that money, the schools, all of a sudden, say our students are not allowed to sit for the exam. On what grounds can they justify that?” The parent questioned.
However, Director and former Principal of Asian International School Goolbai Gunasekera speaking to The Nation said this was not unique to ‘Asian International School’. “All the international schools in the country follow the same procedure. The students are expected to meet standards. This is common to all international schools that follow the London Excel syllabus. There is nothing to be amazed at,” she stated.
Although ‘The Nation’ contacted Priyanthi Seneviratne, Principal of Asian International School, she declined to comment on the matter.
Given that Standards & Poor’s Ratings Services, which affirmed its ‘B+’ long-term and ‘B’ short-term sovereign credit ratings on Sri Lanka recently, is being sued by the Justice Department of the USA, the question is raised as to what ‘ratings’ and ‘standards’ really are. Are they, for example, neat-looking devices to add allure to particular companies, economies and countries? Do international schools deliberately ‘drop out’ weaker students to obtain better pass-fail ratios and artificially maintained high demand? When economies are given ‘A’ ratings (usually the West) is it not natural to see them as ‘greener pastures’ even as citizens of countries with lesser ratings are persuaded to see themselves as ‘lesser’, ‘under-developed’, ‘incompetent’, ‘incapable’ etc.? Where do the ‘cream’ of students attending International Schools plan to move after graduation, if not the West? It would be a stretch to draw hard lines from one to another, but if the USA and the EU (developed, ‘better’ and ‘greener’) themselves cannot detect the difference between beef and horse meat, if ‘milk’ powder sometimes contains oil, urea, detergent, caustic soda, what then are ‘standards’? What then, indeed would constitute ‘The politics of standardization’, or more pertinently ‘The political economy of standardization’? It’s ‘business’ after all, for AIS.