Friday, February 1, 2013

Bodu Bala Sena have at least had the courage to admit they made a mistake

But they have not actually said so! Why?
In the month long saga since the results of the Law College Entrance Exams were announced, accusations have been made especially of racial bias by the Bodu Bala Sena leading to clashes and ugly scenes in demonstrations against the result.

With the disproportionate number of Muslim students getting high marks and also passing the exams, questions were asked, which were vehemently denied by the Minister of Justice of his bias towards Muslim candidates. I accepted at the time that there was no way in which the Minister of Justice could influence the results as he is not privy to any of the procedures in setting of or marking of these exams.

It was interesting therefore that my main premise that as the paper was originally set in English the translation may have been difficult and furthermore difficult for the students appears to have been the case in the end. I surmised that if a student of the same ability in English and Sinhala sat the Exam in each of the languages, that he would get a higher mark in the English than in the Sinhala, as it is inherently more difficult to answer the papers in law in Sinhala!

This has proved to be correct and the allegation from the Bodu Bala Sena has now become, and I quote from an articleBBS said that an error has occurred during the Sinhala translation of the law entrance examination causing injustice to the Sinhala medium students.” They have therefore asked for the students who wrote the paper in Sinhala to be given 14 extra marks due to the 7 questions being mistranslated! Otherwise they would agitate.

Of course in this statement they did not admit to false allegations, but it is clear in their latest press statement what they are now trying to do. The government as always open to compromise, did the next best thing without hurting the feelings of the students who passed the first time, by effectively reducing the pass mark from 69 to 66 whereby more students passed with the intake up from 309 to 551, giving a record increase in students admitted to Law College!

What does this mean? If there was no malpractice in the exams marking, then anyone who feels aggrieved can agitate and force the Govt. to a position that gives them rights, which even if existing students are not denied, as in the Z score case, is going to make it more difficult for ALL students admitted due to the space issue and added class and teaching facilities that are needed. I trust that the exams will be just as tough, and the pass mark not lessened. It would be interesting to note that when they sit their final exams how many in each of the two groups do in fact pass, before we are able to pass some comment on the outcome of this exercise to them. 

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