• Luigi Sapiano

Students Left Scarred By Bizarre Arabic O Level Question

An O Level Arabic exam question asking students to translate an excerpt from Arab literature has left some students scarred and disturbed by its content.

The question appeared in this year’s paper which students sat for on the 15th of June 2021. The question asks students, mainly aged 15-16 years old, to translate what can only be described as a suicide note.

The translated text reads as follows:

"My Dear Wife and children

I’m so sad I can’t live anymore when you read this letter I’ll be dead, and you won’t see me anymore. I gave you a lot when I was a kid but now I’m older and you left me alone and poor without money, therefore, I’ll leave this life and die. Maybe I’ll find another different life. Maybe I’ll be happy there. Maybe I’ll live with poor people like me. I love you. Bye

Then he ate the poison, then sleeps in his bed, then the next day he wakes up happy and his wife calls him and he laughs, his kids call him and he laughs, and anyone calls him he laughs in a very strange sound."

Speaking to SideStreet a native Arab speaker who brought our attention to the exam question said “Imagine someone suffering from suicidal thought reads that, or perhaps even some who had a father that actually committed suicide. How would they deal with this?”

Last week SideStreet reported how an exam question that appeared in a Maltese O Level was described as ‘dangerous’ by a top anthropologist for reinforcing stereotypes that incite racism.

Are these questions appropriate for O Level students to be tackling?

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