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MALTATODY 20 March 2022

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NEWS 9 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 20 MARCH 2022 CANDIDATE ON THE 4 th & 10 th DISTRICTS YOU HAVE A CHOICE ON 26 TH MARCH, INVEST IN YOUR FUTURE 4 th Disctrict: 10 th Disctrict: FGURA | GUDJA | PAOLA | SANTA LUCIJA | TARXIEN BAHAR IC-CAGHAQ | GZIRA | NAXXAR (PART OF) | PEMBROKE | SAN GILJAN | SLIEMA JAMES DEBONO THE removal of Matsec exam fees has removed a heavy burden for lower-income families, but also contributed to an increase in candidates who do not even turn up for their exam for which they had registered. The absentee rate among can- didates sitting for their A-lev- els increased from 7.1% in 2017 when students still paid regis- tration fees, to 12.1% in 2021. In the same time-frame the ab- sentee rate also increased from 5.4% to 14.6% among candi- dates sitting for their interme- diate level exams. The absentee rate among can- didates sitting for their A-lev- els has slightly decreased from 2020 when 15.5% of candidates were absent, but is still con- siderably higher than the 7.4% reported absent in 2018, where half the examination registra- tion fees were covered by the State; and the 7.1% reported absent in 2017 when candi- dates paid registration fees for examinations. The data from a Matsec sta- tistical report suggests "that the introduction of govern- ment subsidised examinations in 2019 has considerably in- creased the number of absent candidates sitting for their ad- vanced level exams". This difference is notable in some subjects more than oth- ers. For example, at Advanced level, all registrants for Lat- in and Applied Mathematics were absent, while more than a quarter of applicants were ab- sent for Arabic (30%) and Reli- gious Knowledge. For Intermediate Level, ab- senteeism stood at 34.8% for Art, 33.3% for Russian and 28.6% for Arabic. When compared to last year, some subjects experienced a 100% increase in absentees, with the percentage of absen- tees increasing from 8.6% to 20.5% in advanced level Sociol- ogy and from 9.1% to 18.2% for A-level Spanish. Despite the removal of exam fees, no significant increase is reported with regards to the number of registrations, even among those hailing from less affluent localities with the number of candidates from the southern harbour only increas- ing from 522 to 523 from 2017 levels. Candidates from the south harbour, which accounts for 19% of the total population, still account for 12% of the total number of candidates as was the case in 2017. A previous analysis by Malta- Today showed that the removal of exam fees had contributed to an increase in students sitting for their O-levels, particular- ly in the south harbour where the numbers shot up by 9% be- tween 2018 and 2019. But this is not reflected in the number of students sitting for their A-level in what could be an indication that students hailing from poorer families are already weeded out from tertiary education at post-sec- ondary level, when students sit for A-levels. A-level fees removal contributes to higher absentee rate 12% absent in A-level exams attributed to removal of fees

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