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National Police training officer quits after controversial spelling test leads to mass candidate failure
HEAD of training for Spain's National Police, Carlos Lobato Masa has resigned just days after the interior ministry decided to scrap the compulsory spelling test for applicants which caused outrage after numerous aspiring officers failed because of the odd choice of words included.
Poor results in the test which formed part of the civil service exams taken by police trainees led to a flood of complaints from candidates and the Unified Police Union (SUP), since it contains words rarely seen in any walk of life, many obsolete and certainly never used in the National Police force today.
The SUP said many of the words required to be correctly spelt 'are never used in everyday police work' and 'are exclusively for erudite, academic circles'.
They included terms such as duunvirato, an alliance of two police, political or military leaders or forces – such as in the Principality of Andorra, where it is made up of the president of the French Republic and the Diocese of Urgel – but which is historically used to define a non-magistrate public role in Ancient Rome held by two men at once, and translates to English as 'duumvirate'.
Other words include champurrear, an archaic verb meaning to make a cocktail or mix of something, and which is only in modern-day use in Nicaragua, where it means to take advantage of or to obtain something with little effort; yuyo, meaning either a weed or any type of wild herb, medicinal or otherwise, but only ever used in Latin America – mostly in Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador; carriño, meaning the mechanical traction part of a an artillery carriage in Ancient military history – easily confused by candidates as being an incorrect spelling of cariño, which means love or affection; and cián, or cyan, a type of petrol-blue colour.
Candidates were given 100 words and told to mark whether they were correct or incorrect within just eight minutes, but not told how many were incorrect – in practice, a total of 28 were so.
But some of the 28 which they were expected to mark as 'incorrect' included words 'borrowed' from other languages which do not have an official translation into Spanish.
'Apartheid', 'paparazzi', 'remake', 'byte', and 'spot' – used in Spanish to mean an advertising slot or commercial break – would, if the applicant had marked them as 'correct', have lost them marks.
Others appeared to be words in everyday use but with missing accents, a 'b' instead of a 'v' or a 'j' instead of a 'g' – or vice versa – and the silent 'h' either missing or added unnecessarily, but in practice some of these turned out to be the correct spelling only with another, now-obsolete meaning, or one only used in certain Central or South American countries.
Very few of the more obscure words were technical police terms, past or present.
Due to the high failure rate, the SUP called for the National Police director-general, Germán López Iglesias, to give explanations and be held accountable.
To solve the problem, the interior ministry announced the results of the test would no longer contribute towards the final exam grade, meaning many of the applicants for the 2,700 police jobs who thought they had been disqualified are now back in contention.
But Lobato Masa has decided to quit anyway in light of the controversy which arose from the test results.
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