Test taker sues over exam error

HISTORIC CASE::A former singer who narrowly failed an examination and had to wait years before her paper was re-marked, is suing the government over her ordeal

By Yang Chiu-ying and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Fri, Jul 05, 2013 - Page 4

For the first time in the nation’s national examination history, a test taker is suing the government on the grounds that years of her life were wasted and she suffered psychological stress due to a scoring mistake by the Examination Yuan.

The plaintiff, former singer Yeh Kou (葉蔻), is claiming NT$9 million (US$311,000) in compensation.

In 2006, Yeh took the mid-level Chinese medicine special examination, but failed by 0.82 points.

She filed for a re-marking of her paper six times over the years, because she had been given low scores in two of the subjects and she was sure she had given the correct answers.

Yeh last year launched an administrative complaint with the Taipei High Administrative Court and the court ruled that the Examination Yuan’s Ministry of Examinations had to finish a re-marking of Yeh’s examination papers within two months.

The results of the re-marking confirmed Yeh’s suspicion that there had been errors in the grading of her papers. The ministry confirmed that Yeh had passed the examination and qualified as a mid-level Chinese medicine practitioner, as long as she completed — as is customary for everybody who passes the test — 108 credits worth of courses over a year and a half.

Yeh had to pass the course before she could be considered a licensed mid-level Chinese medicine practitioner, the ministry said.

The ministry said that it received Yeh’s suit for compensation last month, adding that it respects citizens’ right to sue.

Minister of Examinations Tung Pao-cheng (董保城) said people who bring lawsuits against the ministry are usually individuals who did not meet an examination’s requirements or did not pass an examination, adding that Yeh was the first person to sue the ministry after passing an exam.

Yeh’s lawyer, Su Chia-hung (蘇家宏), said his client wants compensation for seven years of her life which were wasted and for having to have the test re-marked, as well as for suffering psychological stress.

Yeh also intends her lawsuit to be a reminder to the government that it should take a good look at the quality of the people marking and grading national examinations, Su said.

He added that the government should respect examinees’ right to take examinations on a fair and just basis.

According to the National Compensation Act (國賠法), civil servants who have mistakenly or purposefully infringed on the rights of the public in the line of duty must shoulder the responsibility for paying damages.

If people’s rights have been infringed upon through negligence of duty, the civil servant in question should also shoulder the responsibility of paying compensation.

Tung said the matter may become a case study for future lawsuits demanding compensation related to government examinations, adding that the unusual legal intervention serves as a warning to the ministry that it needs to adopt a stricter standard when selecting examination graders.

The ministry has convened a panel of lawyers to discuss the possibility that Yeh’s lawsuit may be successful, Tung said.