MATSEC refutes accusation of lack of cooperation with athletes

The University of Malta's examinations board has come out to reject allegations of lack of cooperation with national athletes, amid reports that they were unable to sit for an exam with others

miriam
Miriam Dalli
22 September 2017, 9:00am
Karl Izzo, National waterpolo team coach accused the education authorities of lack of cooperation ahead of the European Junior Water Polo Championship
Karl Izzo, National waterpolo team coach accused the education authorities of lack of cooperation ahead of the European Junior Water Polo Championship
The University of Malta’s examinations board has rejected allegations of lack of cooperation with national athletes, who were unable to sit for an exam with other students due to their sporting commitments.

National waterpolo team coach Karl Izzo has accused the education authorities of lack of cooperation ahead of the European Junior Water Polo Championship, which this year was held in Malta.

The Aquatic Sports Association of Malta (ASA) wanted the team’s training sessions to take place in Hungary. But three of their players were due to have ‘O’ and ‘A’ level resits in September, clashing with the dates of the training camp.

ASA said the training camp could only be organised during that week because the players “had been very busy participating with their clubs in the local age group competitions”.

ASA requested that the three students sit for their exams in Budapest, so as to allow the training camp to go ahead with its plans.

But the ASA’s request was rejected, on the basis that “such requests should be endorsed by the Malta Sports Council”.

In an email seen by this newspaper, the board said it would give candidates the opportunity to sit for the exam abroad “on the same day and time that the examination is being held in Malta if s/he is representing the country in an official event. In view of this, MATSEC cannot accede to this particular a request since it is being done for a training camp’ and not for an official event.”

Contacted by MaltaToday, the MATSEC board insisted that it always makes an effort to meet all requests that fall under the agreed policy. “However, it may not always be possible to accommodate all requests,” the University of Malta’s communications director, Pierre Cassar said. 

By way of example, Cassar said there have been cases where requests had to be rejected because foreign personnel were not willing to supervise the exam when the day happened to be a public holiday in their country.

Besides using embassies and consulates, MATSEC’s support unit has arrangements with universities and other schools to supervise exams for candidates with sporting commitments abroad. “These arrangements involve finding suitable venues and reliable personnel who can carry out the task on the scheduled date and time, sending out the exam papers and scripts, supervising the exam and returning the scripts,” Cassar said.

Recent arrangements were made for footballers, waterpolo and swimming athletes as well as gymnasts in Lugano, Luxembourg, Chalkida, Gibraltar, Odense, Mallorca, and San Marino. “The Lugano, Odense and San Marino – as recently as the MATSEC 2017 session – benefitted ASA athletes,” Cassar added.

He also said that scheduling an examination for another date means that new examination papers have to be set: “This task is not as simple as may be presumed. It raises questions about the comparability of results. For the May examinations, paper setters are appointed in November and given until March of the next year to produce the papers, which still need to be reviewed by independent examiners and vetted by MATSEC officials before printing.”

Cassar however encouraged stakeholders to engage in talks “so that athletes flag such needs early enough for us to try and find a solution, especially since international tournaments are usually set well ahead.”

Parliamentary secretary for sports Clifton Grima said he had personally contacted Izzo to take full stock of the situation. “The government remains open for wide discussions with all relative stakeholders about what type of more support can be offered, to what extent and in what ways,” a spokesperson said.

When MATSEC exams can be held abroad
  • Representing Malta as part of the national team in an official sporting event approved by SportMalta;
  • Receiving treatment in a hospital abroad or accompanying a member of the immediate family receiving the treatment;
  • Living abroad with a parent/parents/guardian who is representing Malta in an embassy/consulate or the European Commission;
  • Living aborad and wishing to sit for the SEC Maltese examination;
  • Other humanitarian cases


miriam
Miriam Dalli joined MaltaToday.com.mt in 2010 and was assistant editor fr...