KUWAIT: Grade 12 students sit for their final exams yesterday. – Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat and Fouad Al-Shaikh

KUWAIT: Students of grade 12 yesterday began their paper-based final exams with full compliance with health measures and strict precautions against COVID-19 across the country. In a press statement yesterday, Education Minister Ali Al-Mudhaf said the total number of public and private school students who took the general secondary exams is 50,743.

The minister, who visited a number of high schools, affirmed that education is the foundation of any country’s development, pointing out that exams are the true measure and evaluation of students and the educational process. Therefore, the ministry decided that grade 12 tests be held in schools with commitment to the utmost health precautions before, during and after conducting the exams. Mudhaf praised the efforts of the teaching and administrative staff and all the ministry’s employees, calling on students to exert efforts and study hard to achieve their goals.

The education ministry yesterday urged private school students who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 to undergo a PCR swab test free of charge at Jaber Hospital tomorrow ahead of their final exams next week. Students will be able to undergo a swab test at the hospital from 8:00 am until 9:30 pm in order to attend their examinations, the ministry said in a statement.

The Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) sent volunteers to schools to help implement preventive health measures against COVID-19, where they distributed masks and sanitizers to students and teachers entering schools. Salem Faisal, a student in the science section, said the maths exam yesterday was easier than he imagined. “I think because we took our classes online, they were easy on us where we had written and multiple-choice questions,” he said.

Faisal praised the health measures taken inside the school, where students were required to follow all health requirements such as social distancing, wearing a mask, sanitizing hands and measuring body temperature before entering the test room. Another student, Noor Al-Mulla, agreed with Faisal, saying teachers kept obligating students to wear masks during the exam. “The social distancing was huge between each desk. The exam was easy even though I didn’t study hard enough,” she said.

However, for students in the literary section, the French exam was hard for many of them. “The French language is a new topic for most of us. We learned a bit before the pandemic and practiced it only online. It is not fair to force us to take paper exams,” said Eman Al-Hasan.

Ali Al-Omar, one of the students who had a hard time answering the French exam, said the French language exam is beyond the level a student depending on e-learning is able to reach. For Omar’s father, Amjad Al-Omar, the main concerns were about health procedures. “I’m concerned if a student is infected but has no symptoms – he would be able to infect more than 600 others, and then these students can infect their parents,” he said.

Ahmad Al-Zufairi, father of another student, noted that a paper exam will determine the student’s ability to learn, whether in class or behind screens. “Some students did not put any effort into online classes. They were sleeping all year long,” he said. Um Fahad, mother of a third student, complained that her son has asthma and he had a hard time answering the questions while wearing a mask.

Students taking the exams need to present a vaccination certificate issued by the health ministry or a negative result of the PCR test. According to the education ministry, the exams will be held in schools with a commitment to achieving the utmost health precautions before, during, and after the exams. – Agencies