Q and A with Mr. Kairen

1) How and when did you start your career at The Guy Morel Institute?

In November 2019, I joined a dynamic team of workers at The Guy Morel Institute. It was a real step forward to a fresh and more challenging career.

2) What are your roles as a Senior Examination Officer?

Have oversight of the assessments process, be it in the form of exam administration or assignment submission.   In line with TGMI exam policies, guidelines, and regulations, I need to coordinate, oversee, and ensure that everything that concerns exams, be it local or international, is properly administered. A lot goes into meticulous planning and preparations to avoid clashes on the exam timetable and for successful administration of exams. It must be noted that the Senior Examination Officer is not an island, so to speak, and that there is an entire coordination of various duties from different work colleagues, each having a specific role to play.

As the Senior Examination Officer, I must liaise with and act as the first point of contact with all examining bodies.

Examinations at The Guy Morel Institute is in two-fold, local and international exams and both exams comprise of paper-based (narrative) and computer-based exams (CBE).

For local exams, there is quite a process involved before an exam paper finally finds its way into the exam room, in front of a candidate. In the preparation and administration of an exam paper, there cannot be any room for error. Everything should be done as per a timeframe, not to mention the security of exam papers. In addition, in the administration of local exams, there needs to be a good rapport between the Assessment Office and the invigilators. TGMI has a pool of internal (full-time support staff) and external (part-time). Coordinating the invigilation of multiple exams using TGMI staff is not an easy task as full-time staff have their own daily duties to attend to. As such, the services of external invigilators are often sought.

For international exams, be it computer-based or paper-based exams, there is extensive communications between overseas institutions and our Assessment Office prior to the administration of the said exam(s). Through well-established trust, exams are administered either through physical or remote invigilation. For live proctored exams, TGMI provides a fast internet connectivity service for candidates who, because of the current pandemic are finding themselves stranded in the country and cannot travel overseas to their respective university to sit their exam. At the start of restricted movement due to the pandemic, this idea has been welcoming to students and their parents.

I also take care of physical assignment submissions; all the while ensuring that learners submit their assignments on time as per deadline given and these assignments are, in turn, submitted to the respective lectures. Online submissions are catered for by our Senior Librarian, whose additional role is to provide assistance to the Assessment Office.  The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated TGMI’s plan to go paperless, to reduce costs and become more environmentally friendly. This has resulted in the electronic submission of most assignments, which does not require direct contact of learners or their assignments.

Additionally, I chair the Assessment Board Committee where marks for assessment components and final course results and recommendations are ratified. It is only after this process that results are published on the learners’ portal. In the case of approval of overall grade for programmes, these are approved by the Academic Committee.

All in all, I must ensure that all necessary stationery, infrastructures, materials, and other requirements are securely kept and are provided for exams. One occupying such a position must be clear headed, vigilant, and always on top of things, as examinees’ future partly depends on the conditions of how they have attempted their exam(s). One must also be prepared to work outside normal working days as some exams are set on key times which may fall on either a public holiday, a Saturday or even a Sunday.

3) How best can candidates manage anxiety during exam time?

It must be noted that not all candidates have anxiety prior to taking an exam; and even so, whether a candidate has anxiety or not, it will be up to the invigilator to ensure that a candidate is made comfortable prior to taking an exam. However, to minimize anxiety, candidates must:

  • know their exam timetable (date/time/venue of exam)
  • have studied and know the subject that they will be assessed on
  • have a fair knowledge of the type of questions that they will be assessed on through practice tests
  • have gone over exam routines with their lecturer
  • have had enough sleep the night before
  • have had a proper meal (not too heavy though!)
  • reach the exam venue at least one hour prior to the exam start time
  • bring a photographic identification and required stationery
  • practice relaxation techniques (taking deep breaths)
  • avoid distractions, and
  • be positive always

4) Do you think students should be graded based on their performances from a young age until adulthood?

Learners, regardless of whether they are children, young adults or adults should be assessed on content taught – what is known rather than what is unknown or left for speculation. Unfortunately, we live in a world where everything is measured or graded by laid down criteria and learners in schools are no exceptions. Learners are told that if they do not pass exams or make certain grades, they would not be able to get into a particular post-secondary institution or the university for that matter – as if one’s future is closing in on him/her when that is not really the case. It should be noted that not everyone aspires to go to a university. Some young people want to venture into business, even, at the early age of 19. Personally, I think children’s interests should be tapped in as young as 8 years of age whereby they can be channeled and educated according to their abilities given that Seychelles can provide for the development and mastery of their interests. That way, we will have more skilled workers in specific fields in the long run.

5) How would you describe your job, and what do you enjoy about it?

My job is one which is rather delicate as future careers depend on the way I go about it whilst at the same time it is a responsibility that should be discharged with high integrity. One must, simultaneously, be clear and level-headed.

I enjoy the friendliness of the staff and the quiet working environment. Being situated on a hillside, I am fortunate to enjoy fresh air in my spacious office which provides me with enough space to move about as I discharge my daily duties. And what I enjoy the most is when an exam has been successfully administered without any hiccups and learners walk out of the exam room satisfied, not just with their question paper but with the conducive environment under which they have taken their exam.

6) How has it been like working at The Guy Morel Institute?

I cannot complain. It has been an enriching, interesting, even exciting, and pleasant experience so far, where I get to benefit from the flexible working hours.

7) What are the difficulties you face in your job?

I must be present for all exams – at all costs. It is a responsibility. However, I am only human. Should I fall ill, something happens to me, or I proceed on annual leave, then a trained staff can fill in my shoes provided that everything is laid down which is normally the case. This reminds me to mention that my annual leave must be well-planned as TGMI has peak exam seasons which is June/July and November/December.

8) What plans do you have for the future?

To take TGMI exams to greater heights, by offering new services and modern forms of assessments., In addition, assist in putting in new infrastructure and continue to advocate for the implementation of modern practices in assessment and work closely with the TGMI Marketing Team to market new services offered by the Assessment Office.