Year 13 students of Vanuatu's Aore Academy studying for their SPFSC examinations last year. CREDIT: Aore Academy
In 2020, a total of 1,233 students in the South Pacific Form Seven Certificate (SPFSC) programme overcame the challenges of COVID-19 to successfully complete the requirements of the regional qualification. According to the results released last month, this represents an impressive 89 per cent pass rate.
The regional Year 13 certificate qualification, administered by the Pacific Community’s Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP), is undertaken by students in Kiribati, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
EQAP’s Educational Assessment Specialist (secondary assessment) Geetanjali Lal said the 2020 SPFSC results were exceptional considering challenges faced by students and their families over the past year. “The students had to manage their studies along with the hardships that they and their families faced because of the global pandemic and in the case of Vanuatu students, a devastating cyclone.” Ms Lal explained, “In fact, the success rate for 2020 remained the same as the previous year despite the challenges.”
This impressive achievement was largely possible because of the Australian Government’s decision to repurpose some earmarked innovation funds under the EQAP-DFAT partnership to subsidise the examination fees. Under normal circumstances, students’ registration fees allow for the SPFSC programme to be self-sustaining. Based on need, about 62 per cent of the 1,382 SPFSC students had their fees, either partially or fully, paid. The Australian Government’s recognition of the high value of the qualification that students need when they apply for work or entry into tertiary, helped to ensure that Form 7 students in 2020 would be able to continue their education towards their future goals in spite of the situation.
On the overall results for 2020 notable improvements were recorded for Mathematics with Calculus, Mathematics with Statistics, and Physics. “The results in these three subjects used to be very poor in the past years and had been a concern. So, it is wonderful to see a significant improvement in the overall student performance,” said Ms Lal.
While a closer analysis of the results will be made in the coming weeks, Ms Lal was certain the continuous support during the lockdown period, the modification in internal assessment tasks and a flexible approach to timelines contributed to student achievement. “We made every effort to be responsive and accommodative to the needs of the different countries, individual schools and subject teachers,” she said.
Students have until February 15 to apply for a reconsideration of their scores. Ms Lal said students who want their scores reconsidered, which includes re-scoring of their examination scripts, must do so before the deadline. This option is available at a fee, which is reimbursed if the second scoring leads to an amendment to the students’ initial achievement level.
The SPFSC exam was administered in November last year and the results were released on January 8.