The 2021 GCE Ordinary Level Examination will get underway today.
The O/L exam will be worked-off until the 1st of June at 3,844 examination centres across the country.
The Ministry of Education said 517,496 candidates are scheduled to sit for the O/L exam this year.
407,129 among them are school applicants while 110,367 private candidates will also face the exam.
Commissioner General of Examinations LMD Dharmasena noted that arrangements have been made for 590 special needs children to face the O/L exam as well.
The Education Ministry added 542 coordinating centres have been established to oversee operations.
Meanwhile, O/L candidates have been requested to report to examination centres early with the admission card and a valid identity card.
A total of 15 prison inmates will sit for the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level Examination.
Accordingly, one inmate at the Welikada Prison, four LTTE cadres held at the Magazine Prison and 10 juvenile offenders studying at the Suneetha Prison School at the Open Prison Camp in Watareka are due to face the exam.
Prisons Media Spokesman Prisons Commissioner Chandana Ekanayake said all inmates will sit the exam at centres established at the Magazine Prison and at the Suneetha Prison School in Watareka.
The Department of Examinations requests candidates, teachers and principals of schools to be present at centres a few minutes earlier than expected for the GCE Ordinary Level Examination.
Speaking to media at the Department of Government Information, Commissioner General of Examinations LMD Dharmasena said invigilators have been instructed to provide students a grace period to be present at examination halls.
He said the law permits a grace period of 30 minutes for students to be present at exam halls after the paper has been distributed.
However, due to the special circumstances in the country, he has instructed invigilators to excuse late attendees even if it exceeds that timeframe.
He pointed out that teachers have also been instructed to not reject any individuals who are late to the exam.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Examinations LMD Dharmasena said the Department does not expect to reduce the quality of question papers, despite students having to face challenging circumstances.
The Commissioner General pointed out that dates for the exam were set after careful consideration of time required to cover the syllabus despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Dharmasena said the standard of O/L exam papers will be maintained as it is an exam which is recognised worldwide.
He explained that downgrading its quality will send a bad message to the larger community.
The Department of Examinations has requested candidates for the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level Examination to check the accuracy of details on their respective admission card.
The Department informs candidates to call 011 278 4208 or 011 278 4537 and inform them of any changes that are required for the subjects stated on the admission card.
Commissioner General of Examinations LMD Dharmasena requested candidates to check on the medium and the subjects stated on the admission card carefully.
He said students will receive the maximum support of the Examinations Department.
Dharmasena called on parents to send the children to examination centres, earlier than the stated time since transportation issues are unpredictable.
He also called on the public to not disrupt students travelling on roads, by blocking them to make various demands.
Dharmasena stressed that students will be under added pressure to study amid these challenging times.
A special arrangement has been made to transport students and examination staff to respective GCE Ordinary Level Examination centres.
Director General of the National Transport Commission Commander (Rtd.) Nilan Miranda said the NTC has issued directives to run Sisu Sariya buses at maximum capacity for the convenience of the students sitting the O/L exam this year.
The Sri Lanka Transport Board says that arrangements have been made to deploy adequate SLTB buses for the convenience of students who are facing the GCE Ordinary Level Examination and staff who are on exam duty.
Chairman of the SLTB Kingsley Ranawaka said the examination schedule had been sent to all depot managers.
Accordingly, additional SLTB buses will be added to the island depending on the exam schedule. He noted that special arrangements have also been made considering the fuel shortage in the country.
The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association says private buses will be deployed continuously during the O/L exam period.
President of the Association Gemunu Wijeratne said all private buses will be in operation and therefore students and parents should not need to have undue fear.
He said they also requested Police not to set-up roadblocks and inconvenience the public especially during the examination period.
Sri Lanka Railways says that steps have been taken to run trains according to the usual train schedule during the O/L examination period.
Sri Lanka Railways Deputy General Manager VS Polwattage said students and parents should leave early to the examination centres since more people are using trains at present.
He said due to the bus fare hike and current financial situation, people have resorted to using trains for their daily commute which has resulted in crowded trains, especially during morning peak hours.
He said parents should be mindful of the new development.
Police say maximum security has been provided for GCE Ordinary Level Examination centres.
Accordingly, a sergeant and two constables with weapons will be deployed at each examination centres.
Police Media Spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa said mobile police patrols will also provide security to candidates as well as during the transportation of question papers and answer scripts.
SSP Thalduwa said a Police checkpoint has been established at the Department of Examinations to co-ordinate efforts.
He said 378 officers have been assigned to provide security during the transportation of O/L question papers.
The Police Media Spokesman noted an Assistant Superintendence of Police or a higher rank has been assigned as the main coordinator for co-ordination in all Police Divisions.
SSP Thalduwa said daily patrols will take place to ensure security at all examination centres and question paper marking centres.
He said Police Headquarters has issued special directives to all Officers in Charges and Heads of all Divisions.
The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka has urged the public not to stage protests by blocking roads during the GCE Ordinary Level Examination period.
The PUCSL said all citizens should extend their maximum support for the smooth conduct of the O/L exam.