“Best student” exams cancelled over Covid-19 concerns

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The Ministry of Education and Sports has cancelled the National Best Student Exams for secondary school pupils to prevent the possible spread of Covid-19.

According to an announcement issued on March 6, the ministry has suggested that each province organise their own “best student” exams.

Director General of the General Education Department, Dr Sisouk Vongvichit, told Vientiane Times “Originally, we scheduled exams for March 17-20 to find the country’s best secondary school students.”

“The exams are among several events to be cancelled to prevent large numbers of people gathering in one place and possibly spreading the coronavirus, as we don’t know who may be harbouring the virus.”

With regard to the suggested new arrangement, the ministry has advised provincial exam organising committees to comply with the regulations and principles of the exams and to provide certificates, prizes and scholarships to the winners.

The winners of the National Best Student Exams in the lower secondary school (Grade 4) category will get scholarships to study at a provincial Phonesavanh School (talented school), at Santiphab Secondary School in Luang Prabang province, or at Vientiane Secondary School. The winners of the National Best Student Exams in the upper secondary school (Grade 7) category will get scholarships to study at universities. The scholarships will be disbursed by the Ministry of Education and Sports and provided to provincial Education and Sports Departments next academic year.

The purpose of the exams is to improve learning and teaching in schools by encouraging students to be conscientious about their studies and to take schoolwork seriously.

The exams also help teachers to be more focused and encourage outstanding students by giving them government scholarships to study for bachelor degrees at universities.

The exams are an opportunity for schoolchildren to aspire to be academically successful and to demonstrate their knowledge and creativity in various subjects. Candidates are encouraged to work hard towards possible participation in international competitions.

Last year, 144 students in Grades 4 and 7 of secondary school took part in the 2018-2019 National Best Student Exams.

The top eight winners from Vientiane and the provinces of Champassak, Luang Prabang, Xieng Khuang and Vientiane received prizes and certificates of merit from the Ministry of Education and Sports. All those who took the exams received certificates of participation. The first-place awardees received scholarships, certificates and gold medals, those coming second received scholarships, certificates and silver medals, and those in third place were given scholarships, certificates and bronze medals.

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