PHILIPSBURG–The Consumers Coalition has requested an urgent meeting with the Inspectorate of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (TEATT) on concerns and complaints it has received from persons about the digitising of the driver’s Licence examinations.
The TEATT Ministry’s Driving Exams Department (DED) announced recently that it had begun a soft launch of its “Digital Theory Driving Examinations”, with the full launch scheduled for September 2.
The Consumers Coalition said at a press conference on Thursday that it had received several complaints about the changes from a number of persons who have to sit the exams.
“Students have requested us to intervene on their behalf with the Inspectorate of TEATT,” the Coalition said noting that it will request an urgent meeting with the Inspectorate to table the students’ concerns and to discuss possible solutions for the situation.
The Department started off with the digitisation of the theoretical part of the exam which has been vetted by curriculum developers used by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, based on local and international standards.
The Coalition said the complaints received have to do with the change in the examination system, particularly the multiple-choice system introduced, which the Coalition says looks more like a language proficiency test rather than a test of the applicant’s knowledge of rules to apply in the traffic.
“Students have been trained to pass the old examination system, and are complaining that they have not received education material to train for the new examination system. The digitalised board is a two-dimensional screen with traffic situations, whereas they have been trained with a table board to move the objects on the table and to explain the traffic rules in their own words,” the Coalition explained.
“The new system provides pre-defined answers in a language format that they are not accustomed to speak. The terminology used in the examination examples they have seen deviates from the course material that they have been provided until now.”
The Driving Exams Department had advised that applicants should not be nervous or overanxious.
“But students complain that the timeframe to take the theoretical exam is not sufficient, as they find they need more time to analyse which answer is the best of the three answers presented with the complex traffic situations.”
Applicants must have basic computer-use knowledge, which facilitates the examination process.
“Those who have not, cannot they not pass the old examination way? The [Ministry had – Ed.] said that under special conditions candidates with challenges can be accommodated if the candidates advised the Civil Registry in advance upon application for the exam. But until now everyone who applied was forced to do the new digital examination,” the Coalition argued.
“Students prefer to choose between the new digital or the old manual theoretical exam system. As it was announced that the old manual examination system will be phased out after September 2, 2019, students asked us to see they can choose which examination system they opt for. We also received a complaint that students are no longer examined in automatic driving cars but only in cars with standard driving.
“We have a meeting pending with instructors from driving schools on the island concerning the complaints of the students and the courseware they are providing the students. Some instructors we called for more information told us that they have complained about the introduction of the new digital examination system, but that their criticism was not taken into consideration.”
According to the Coalition, based on the urgency of the situation, it will request an urgent meeting with the Driver’s Licence Examination Department of the Inspectorate of TEATT to look for an acceptable solution for the concerns raised by the students.