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Ethiopia’s top student on excelling in exam that only 3% passed

Hanan Neji

The top student in this year’s national exams in Ethiopia has said she is “very pleased”.

Hanan Neji may have excelled, but overall the national performance was one of the worst the country has ever seen.

Many Ethiopians have been expressing their shock over the mass failure rate after only 3.2% of students passed in the Grade 12 university entrance exams this year.

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Only 27,000 of the 815,000 candidates who sat the exams will be able to directly go to university. Nearly half of all participating schools did not have a single student attaining the required pass mark, according to the education ministry.

But Neji, from the capital, Addis Ababa, who scored 649 out of 700, told the BBC she was “very pleased” with the result.

“The exam was not tough. If you are prepared, it was an exam you could do,” she told the BBC, adding that many students had not prepared themselves well.

“There was no cheating and [many were not] able to do the exam. I think that’s why most students failed,’’ she said.

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It is the second year in a row that Ethiopia has seen a mass failure of students. Last year, Education Minister Berhanu Nega called the results “shocking” after only 3.3% of nearly 900,000 students passed.

The number of students who reached the required pass mark this year is below the enrolling capacity of universities across the country.

The poor performance comes after authorities began sending students to university premises to sit their exams in order to stop cheating.

It is another headache for the country in the aftermath of a deadly war and other crises, with millions of children leaving school due to violence, drought and displacement.

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