Cut cost of exam appeals, group says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 August, 2009, 12:00am

A group of online petitioners will hold a protest march late this month to urge the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) to reduce or even cancel fees charged for appeals of exam results.

More than 12,000 people have signed an online petition. The group proposes that students should be able to see their own exam papers at no cost, since that is the clearest way to see how markers have arrived at their final tallies.

'How can [the HKEAA] convince people that the marking is accurate and reliable unless they make the marking system and model answers known to the candidates,' a person named Frankie Lam wrote on the Facebook site, which is hosting the petition. Some 12,000 people had signed the petition within a week of its launch on August 6.

Candidates can apply to have their exam results rechecked, or their exam papers completely remarked - a 'full appeal' - within seven days after the release of the results, paying a fee varying from HK$180 to HK$715 depending on the subject.

Rechecking involves looking for technical errors such as mistakes in adding up marks or pages accidently left unmarked. In full appeals, exam papers are remarked twice - unless the first remarking reproduces the original mark.

Group co-founder John Wan Hiu-to, of Jockey Club Ti-I College, and 15 other group members held their first meeting last night to plan the protest march. It would be held before August 28, when the results of current full appeals are released, he said.

John scored 15 marks in this year's HKCEE - not enough to secure him a Form Six place in the top school on his list. He has appealed over his marks in four subjects, including Chinese literature and mathematics.

'Though my family is able to afford the appeal fee totalling HK$2,000, that does not mean all families can,' he said.

Meanwhile, four students from the group held a protest at the HKEAA's Wan Chai office at 2pm yesterday. Afterwards, organiser Lam Lee-lam met Thomas Cheung Kwong-yuen, the HKEAA's development and educational assessment director, and later said: 'The authority said it might be possible to provide appeals at no charge, or provide an allowance to cover the cost of students' appeals.'

Students can see their exam papers for a fee of HK$385 per subject, a HKEAA spokeswoman said. 'It is essential to charge for the services we provide at this stage as the HKEAA is a self-financing organisation,' she said. 'If an appeal leads to a mark being raised, the appeal fee will be refunded to the candidate.'

According to HKEAA statistics, 5,044 out of about 80,000 students submitted appeals for rechecking and full appeals last year, leading to higher marks in 4.5 per cent of cases.