Dilemmas in Accommodating Candidates with Special Needs

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Dilemmas in Accommodating Candidates with Special Needs

Accommodating candidates with special needs has taken a new turn in Swaziland. With the advent of Free Primary Education, an increasing population with special access needs is emerging. This means the Examinations Council of Swaziland is challenged to cater to these candidates and this has come with certain pressures that seek to compromise the integrity of the Council as an Examining Board. Some of these are political pressures to pass the candidates with special needs. This paper reports on the dilemma faced by the Council to balance between adhering to the principles governing access arrangements for special candidates and responding to the demands to pass these candidates despite their performance in the examination. An analysis of a case of deaf students is presented to show differentiated levels of achievement when all other issues of accommodation have been considered. The analysis indicates that these special candidates fall far below set standards for certification at Junior Secondary level. It appears that the problem does not lie with assessment but with the education system as a whole. More research is necessary to shed light on acceptable accommodations for special populations.Key words: Candidates with special needs, accommodation, access arrangement

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