BEIRUT: Education Minister Elias Bou Saab Saturday dismissed that test questions for Grade 9 official exams have been leaked, after media allegations reported that official questions had been released to students and the parents of students sitting the Brevet examinations.
Official exams commenced Friday after Bou Saab agreed with the Union Coordination Committee earlier this week to postpone the start of official exams from Thursday.
“I have personally verified that those allegations are untrue” said Bou Saab, condemning what he views as a smear campaign against the controversial exams.
The education minister toured several test centers in the southern city of Saida, where he spoke to students and addressed their concerns.
Bou Saab said that tests have been conducted so students “would not lose [the chance] to get a diploma and continue in [their] careers.”
The minister also reported a more relaxed atmosphere the second day of exams, saying that “95 percent of students were relieved” with the calm and smooth climate.
According to Bou Saab, the exam questions were not difficult, but at the same time not easy enough to tarnish the reputation of the Lebanese certificate.
He also toured a test center hosting 170 students, all Syrian refugees. “This center is only for Syrians because Parliament was late in granting permissions to students who gave in documents verifying their previous studies in Syria,” said the minister.
According to Bou Saab the ministry is working with international organizations in order to reach the Syrian ministry of education and achieve more coordination. He added that all math exams were translated from English to Arabic to aid Syrian students not trained in a foreign language.
The issue of whether the exams would be graded remains unresolved pending an agreement on the salary scale. Bou Saab urged law makers Wednesday to resolve the wage hike issue and end the teachers’ strike so tests would be graded on time.
Shortly after Bou Saab met with Sidon MP Bahia Hariri in Majdaloun to discuss solutions for the salary scale issue.
Bou Saab expressed hopes that the next parliamentary session will resolve the wage hike in a manner that consolidates between competing demands, and that does not harm the treasury.
According to Bou Saab, he requested Hariri's help in turning a corner to reach a viable agreement over the salary scale, in the hopes that the next legislative session would reveal a solution that will give teachers’ their demands without incurring any inflation.
"We also discussed the calm climate taking over official exams," he said, adding that only a few days ago complete chaos reigned over the process.