“Cheap political points”: on the “language changes” to external assessment
According to a Ministry of Education Order from 25 March, the tests for independent external assessment [ZNO] will be printed in seven languages of national minority groups. Specialists criticize this, mainly from the point of view of the timing.
According to the Ukrainian Educational Quality Assessment Centre, if candidates for ZNO have indicated that they need terminology dictionaries in Russian, Romanian, Polish, Crimean Tatar, Hungarian or Moldovan, they will automatically receive the tests translated into that language. Those who have not asked for dictionaries, but feel such a need must re-register by 8 April.
According to Inna Sovsun, Educational Programme Coordinator for the Centre for Social Research, the issue of whether the exams should be introduced in minority language can be argued about, but there can be no question of it being wise to do it now, effectively just two months before the entrance procedure gets underway. “Changing the rules two months before play is unacceptable. It’s cheap political point scoring which will be against the school-leavers”, she says.
Besides the additional financial burden with printing, translating and ensuring confidentiality, there will inevitability be a number of technical problems. She notes that in previous years there has been confusion with the Russian language tests when these ended up with the wrong students, and had to be transferred, this opening up new opportunities for manipulation. Ms Sovsun points out that there are no guarantees that the instructor will not infringe confidentiality and will not photograph the tasks.
There is no law on independent external assessment and no criminal liability for breaking confidentiality, while the cost is considerable. Ms Sovsun is convinced that it will be extremely difficult to monitor the process for seven languages. There will also be a lot of problems in eastern regions where a number of people will want to take the exams in Russian, and there is little time left for re-registering.
And they’ll have to study in Ukrainian
It remains an open question how a person who has studied and takes the tests in the language of a minority group plans to study in a Ukrainian institute since according to the law on education, tuition in higher education should only be in Ukrainian.