EQUALvet's Examination and Certification Event

Exams! A word that creates stress in everyone’s mind as they remember their school years and the many different tests they gave to prove the acquirement of knowledge and skills. At the same time, the end of the exam period is also strongly linked with feelings of satisfaction, completion, and achievement despite the results.

Exams are a type of hardship, like many in life, that helps people grow, explore their potential, and set new goals. It is a word that shouldn’t be linked with the fear of failure, it should be in fact connected with our effort to become better and evolve, no matter the score. After all, we should strive for progress not perfection and that is the true success of any test. This is one of the most important lessons of the learning process and unfortunately, students who attend non-formal settings of special vocational education usually do not have the same opportunities to discover.

EQUALvet project designed a vocational training program which includes evaluation procedures that are friendly toward the learning needs of people with intellectual disabilities in order to verify the acquisition of the skills and knowledge gained during their training and internship period. A certificate as a document isn’t only helpful to employers to feel reassured when hiring a new employee to fill a specialty position, but it also encourages the new professional to enter the competitive open labor market with confidence and ambition! These positive feelings are empowering for people with disabilities, who may self-stigmatize or feel insecure, because they feel proud as newly certified professionals and become more optimistic regarding taking the initiative and seeking vocational rehabilitation, tackling this way all the barriers created by stereotypes.

In June 2022, the learners with intellectual disabilities from MARGARITA (Greece), ARCIL (Portugal), and Fundació Mas Xirgu (Spain) participated in the exams of their training as Chef Assistants, Gardener Assistants, and Cleaners. The exams lasted 40 minutes and during this time the learners answered multiple-choice questions that were chosen randomly by TUV Hellas to ensure the credibility of the test. All the questions derived from the contents of the project’s training manuals and were linked with the vocational skills, as these were identified during the research phase of the EQUALVET project, the employer’s needs analysis regarding the specific job positions.

It is not a surprise that all the participants felt anxious about the exams but at the same time they were impatient to complete the test and see their efforts bear fruits. EQUALvet’s examination procedure implemented measures that aimed to unlock everyone’s potential. EQUALvet ensured that during the examination there was all the necessary support for the individual needs of the participants and the examination hall was a stress-free environment. Before the exams, the participants were familiarized with the exam procedure by learning what is a multiple-choice test, what are the exam rules, where will it take place, and who is the examiner and supporter.

The exam questions were also accessible as they were accompanied by images, and the supporters were there to read aloud the questions and provide further explanations. The supporters' presence was also very important to encourage the participants and explain that their anxiety was a normal aspect of the exams, but no matter the results no one fails in their learning progress. In the end, everyone expressed that they really enjoyed this procedure and celebrated the end of the exam period.

The results of the exams were also very positive as the success rate was quite high, proof that when the training and evaluation procedure is inclusive it reveals everyone’s talents. Of course, this could not end without EQUALvet holding a certification ceremony at the end to congratulate everyone who participated! The participants were truly proud of their certificate and a lot of other students expressed their interest in entering the training program and giving exams to receive their own certificate.