HUMAN error has caused misery for thousands of Leaving Certificate exam students. Instead of sitting their second English paper this morning they will have to return to school on Saturday and take a new paper which is being rushed out by the State Examinations Commission (SEC).
The fiasco could not have come at a worse time, on the very first day of the exams.
For weeks students have been told not to panic, to prepare carefully and pace themselves accordingly. Now their plans have been thrown into disarray by what can only be described as a stupid mistake by a superintendent.
The person has been suspended with immediate effect but that's of little consolation to the students who are right to be angry over his carelessness. The students deserve more than an apology from the SEC. They are entitled to a detailed explanation on how the mistake arose and an assurance that this will never happen again.
The dates and subjects are clearly marked in big print on exam papers, yet the superintendent in question somehow managed to open the wrong envelope and distribute the wrong day's papers.
The SEC will have to look at the arrangements again and ensure that a second person always doublechecks to see that the correct papers are opened and distributed.
The integrity of the national certificate examinations has to be maintained and the SEC really was left with little choice but to reschedule the exam for Saturday morning. Hopefully, the incident, infuriating as it is, will not throw the Leaving Certificate students off their stride and they will quickly settle back into an exam routine without any more unwanted disruptions.