By Kirubel Tadesse, Capital
The Government has approved a new national exam students will have to take to join university.
According to sources, the Ministry of Education (MoE) will shortly announce the changes made in the exam that preparatory program grade 12 students take at the end of the year.
Replacing the old curriculum’s Ethiopian School Leaving Certificate Examination (E.S.L.C.E), it was back in 2001 that the first batch of the new education policy students took the new Ethiopian General Secondary Education Certificate exam at grade ten.
The Education Ministry uses the students score to divide them in to two groups: one gets sent to various vocational programs, while the second group goes on a two years preparatory program in order to go to university.
Students who successfully complete the two year preparatory program will take the final national exam – the Ethiopian Higher Education Entrance Certificate Examination. Their score in this test determines what studies they will take, if any. It is this exam, first launched in 2003, the Education Ministry has decided to change next academic year.
Grade 12 students, including this year’s, took a national exam that contains five subjects, while the newly approved exam has seven.
The new exam to be announced will keep English, math, civics and aptitude subjects, but eliminate general science and social science for natural and social science students, respectively.
Each subject, a total of five, is marked out of 100, but now the eliminated two subjects from each side will each be divided into three, taking the overall grade point to 700.
All students will sit seven exams, with physics, biology and chemistry added for natural science students, while geography, history and economics are added for social science students.
“Basically for social science students, the social science subject, which now comprises three subjects, will be divided in to three separate exams, and the same for natural science students who used to take general science exam, they will sit physics, biology and chemistry exams starting from next academic year,” a source explained to Capital.
“Most students go for a degree program that would focus on one of the subjects now compressed in just one exam, therefore encouraging them to devote a little time to general and social science exams since the two only count for 100 out of 500 total grading, while other subjects like English and civics have 100 points each,” the source added, explaining why the change was necessary.
“The first entrance exam excluded civics’ exam and it was graded out of 400. In the following year, civics was included and the exam numbered five subjects so it is always necessary to keep improving exams to better assess students,” the source also said.
The new entrance exam to be announced looks more like a Grade 10 exam where students sit for nine exams and graded by seven best, but making math and English compulsory.
The entrance exam change is part of a broader reform agenda the Education Ministry is planning.
It wants most of the preparatory students to focus on natural studies so that at completion at least 70 per cent of them join natural science programs.
Official data shows that this year’s freshmen in natural science fields studying in 22 state-run universities are only 51 per cent from the total enrolment.
“Next academic year enrolment will take the share to 60 per cent and 2011 should be the desired 70 percentage share,” one expert outlined the targets.
The break down of the seventy percentage share is forty per cent for computing and engineering fields, while 20 per cent enrollment goes to other basic natural sciences fields, such as applied physics and biology; health studies and agriculture will each take five per cent.
The 30 per cent for social science is split in to two: 20 per cent for business and economics students and 10 per cent for social studies.
The whole point behind the 70/30 divide is to produce professionals in industry and technology fields that will have both the quantity and quality to realise a transformation of the emerging economy. This is an approach the Government says has proved successful in the best performing European and Asian economies.