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Monday, October 15, 2007

The Struggle Begins, or rather Continues . . .

This morning Luke begins his O Level Exam Ordeal, with a Chemistry Lab practical exam.  Students will be given unknown substances and with their lab equipment they must choose to run various tests to characterize the compound.  He feels fairly confident, maybe his granddad's genes coming through, since he has spent scant time in the lab in his school career.  This is the first of 19 half-day (2 1/2 hour) exams spread over the next month, up to November 15.  He will be tested in 9 subjects over all that has been taught in four years:  Math, Additional Math, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, English, Literature, Christian Religious Education, and Computer Studies.  The first five he actually attended classes for; the second four he’s “crammed” in the last 6 months.  Most subjects have two papers (exams), some have a third if there is a lab.  The sciences have some multiple choice but most of the questions are long-hand, write-what-you-know type essays.

This month of exams determines the future of students in Uganda.  They must pass highly enough to enter A-level (S5 and S6) studies, which are like late high school/junior college.  From O to A level students narrow from 9 or 10 subjects to 3 or 4.  Then their A level performance determines their entry to University (3 years for a bachelor’s degree; five years for medicine).  The day to day, year to year, transcript has no bearing on their admission, it all boils down to these days of exams.  

So you can pray for the school, for students to dredge up all they’ve learned, to not panic, to do their best.  Pray for the district to resist corruption (cheating has been rampant in the past).  Pray for Luke to strike the right balance between taking his studies seriously enough to learn, but not worrying over the exams.  Pray for all of us to enter more fully into the lives of Ugandans through this experience, and for God to get glory.

Every exam ends with these words typed across the bottom, an appropriate epithet:  THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES!

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