The increasing number of candidates failing in competency examinations in maritime courses is worrying the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS). Candidates have failed to clear mainly the important ‘navigation’ function in the examinations.

The DGS, which deals with all executive matters relating to merchant shipping, observed that the number of candidates failing in the competency examinations was alarming. Also, many candidates scored well below the pass marks. Officials in the maritime institutes, however, claimed that the poor performance could be due to the fact that some of the courses still have the age-old navigation “that relied on stars and compasses for navigation.” Today, it is the era of global positioning systems (GPS), which is prevalent across the world, but not in India, said Capt. S. Bhardwaj, Vice-Chancellor, AMET University, Chennai. Countries such as Norway and Sweden have got rid of navigation courses as they rely only on GPS, he said.

While there is no official data, sources said that over 1,000 candidates appear for competency examinations every year, and less than half of them pass.

Remedial measures

The Chief Examiner of Master and Mates recently met representatives from maritime training institutes conducting post-sea competency courses, Indian National Shipowners Association, and the Maritime Association of Shipowners, Shipmanagers and Agents. The meeting was to find out remedial measures to improve the performance of the candidates and to reduce the rush of candidates for the examinations.

It was decided that a candidate declared ‘failed’ in any function of the competency examination (written and oral) will be restricted from reappearing for at least one month from the date of declaration of the preceding result. This period should be used for preparing for the next examination.

If a candidate scores less than half of the pass marks (less than 70 out of 140 or 60 out of 120) required for a subject, his result will have a star sign. Such candidates will attend the full preparatory course again before re-appearing for the examination.

Poor performance of the candidates partly indicates ineffectiveness of the assessment cell required to be set up by each approved maritime training institution. This is to monitor the conduct of the course and evaluate the performance of the candidates by internal assessment, the DGS noted.

(This article was published on November 16, 2012)
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