BHAWNA ATMARAM

The decision of the outgoing government to hold the general elections on Thursday 7th November 2019 and subsequently the counting of votes on Friday 8th November 2019, has left numerous students, parents, teachers, stakeholders and members of the population perplexed. The Mauritius Examinations Syndicate (MES) has issued communiques that the set SC/HSC November examinations 2019 would be maintained on these specific dates but suffice to say that despite reassurances from the authorities, this decision is highly irresponsible on a number of points.

Political tension will be rife on the eve of polling day, polling day itself and the day of the counting of votes. Anything could flare up at any moment since raw emotions are concerned. Everything hangs by a thread. Both revision and examinations could be perturbed by the local political folklore of political rallies, complete with loudspeakers blasting songs, slogans and candidate names of the major parties all day long and till late in the evening. There will be added stress on parents who have to drive their children to and from the examination centres. Many such centres are situated along main roads and one can imagine that the examinations themselves will not be taking place in the best possible circumstances, throwing serenity for candidates and their family members out of the window.

Furthermore, on the day of the counting of votes, there are examinations which will end in the afternoon. Cacophony will definitely follow if coincidentally, the results are officially declared in some constituencies at that very same time. There will be the risk of candidates being stranded on their way back home due to the traditional celebratory rallies, particularly those candidates who depend on public transport. There is no security guarantee for candidates, parents, examiners, invigilators and other stakeholders who are actively involved in the examinations.

We should not forget that these examinations concern essentially our young children whose future is at stake. Years of sacrifice should not have been recklessly tampered with. It is the primary duty of any responsible government to ensure that the well-being of its children comes first. Everything else is secondary. Let us hope that there is no collateral damage and that it is the first and last time that any rash political decision comes even close to destabilise our children’s future.