Education authorities across Asia tighten safety measures



PETALING JAYA: The Covid-19 pandemic has forced educational authorities across Asia to tighten safety measures when holding public examinations, which includes postponing them.

Although schools are closed in most parts of the region, the authorities have introduced new policies and guidelines as national exams have to be held to ensure the continuity of educational timeline.

South Korea postponed their 2021 College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT), also known as “suneung”, to December for the first time since 1998, reported Korean news agency News1.

This year’s entrance exam was scheduled to start on Nov 19 but has been postponed to Dec 3, and it will be held in venues that were never affected by Covid-19 to ensure students’ safety.

The report added that in case of an emergency, such as a candidate catching a fever on the day of the test, they would be required to wear a face mask with higher specifications, like KF80, throughout the test.

KoreaBizWire reported that over 1,850 exam sites have been set up, according to quarantine protocols and guidelines.

Students are not allowed to have meals together during break time to reduce the risk of contracting the virus during CSAT.

China too had postponed its annual “gaokao” university entrance exam for a month due to the pandemic.

The exam was scheduled to take place in June but was held back until July, reports Reuters.Exam centres had set up body temperature checkpoints and all candidates were required to wear face masks.

High school students have also been attending online classes since early February due to the virus.

In Thailand, a compulsory national exam known as Ordinary National Education Test (O-NET) was held in February for the 2019 academic year, despite worries over Covid-19.

Thai Education Ministry distributed face masks and ensured that students adhered to strict precautionary measures, The Nation reported in March.

Japanese Education Ministry recently reversed its decision in June to not allow students to take standardised examinations for university entrance if they have had close contact with Covid-19 patients.

The new policy was approved by the ministry on Oct 15, allowing affected students to take the exams provided they tested negative on the polymerase chain reaction test (PCR), Mainichi reported.

Students will be allowed to take the examination in Spring 2021, between February to March.

However, students who are not feeling well or manifest any Covid-19 symptoms would be asked to sit for make-up tests later instead of on the same day as other students.

National examinations in Singapore such as O-Level and A-Level are going on as scheduled despite Covid-19 cases.

The Straits Times reported that the Singapore Education Ministry (MOE) said examinations would be conducted between October and December, with special arrangements.

Students who have Covid-19 or are under quarantine orders are not allowed to sit for the examinations

Exceptions could be made for students under quarantine due to compassionate reasons, such as travelling for funerals.

Affected students will be allowed to sit for the examination in a centralised venue managed by the exams board. They will be seated individually in separate rooms.

Singapore MOE said that students who missed the national exams with valid reasons due to Covid-19 can apply for special consideration in grading.

Students will be graded based on their other school-based or national examination as well as their performance in school relative to the student’s schoolmates in the same year.

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