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CPE is dead: What’s next for education?

CPE is dead: What’s next for education?

On Monday, 17,099 students, who sat for the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) for the first time, received their results. This year, the pass rate is of 76,96% and students performed better in English and History-Geography. What’s next for those sitting for the Primary School Achievement Certificate (PSAC) in 2017 following the Nine Year Schooling reform? News on Sunday reports.

The big suspense ended on Monday for the 17,099 students who received their CPE results. According to figures from the Mauritius Examination Syndicate, there is a slight decline in the pass rate this year. However, the rate is expected to increase on December 29th as the 1,640 candidates who have failed in a subject will be receiving their results following remedial exams on December 20th.

The Minister of Education Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun held a press conference on Tuesday. The Nine-Year Schooling reform will bring a new dimension to the education system, she said. “It will be a new learning way with freshly trained educators,” she said. Mrs Dookun highlighted the major changes to the education system in 2017. “Structurally, the nine years of continuous basic education means pupils will stay for six years in primary schools before they move on to regional secondary schools where they will complete the remaining three years of NYS cycle. Subsequently, they will continue their schooling for the remaining years either in the same regional school or an academy. Secondary schooling will thus consist of Lower (Grades 7 to 9) and Upper Secondary (Grades 10 to 13),” she explained.

For the Minister, the aim of the reform is to provide “fair learning opportunities to all children with none being left behind.” She pointed out that there will be no changes regarding the existing criteria for transition to Grade 7 (Form 1) in regional secondary schools and that the National Certificate of Education (NCE) assessment will be held for the first time in 2020. “16 Regional Scholarships in addition to the Laureate Scheme will be introduced with effect from January 2019,” she announced. She also said that in-service training has already started since November 2015. 

Mrs Dookhun announced that her Ministry will launch a communication campaign with parents as from next week. “Information packs will be distributed to all parents and students. We are going to start with elementary schools because the major changes in high school will come in 2018.” 

For Kadress Pillay, former Minister of Education, the reform is positive. “I am for the reform. I trust that the abolition of the CPE will eliminate selection because since its introduction, it has encouraged school apartheid,” he said on Radio Plus. For him, the success of the Nine-Year Schooling reform will reside in the meticulous work on the part of the Ministry. “For eighteen years, we talked about it and we had to start somewhere. I congratulate the Minister. However, it is only next year when the reform will be in place that we will know if it is a success,” he uttered. 

Kadress Pillay also underlined a weakness. “One of the obstacles could be the parents’ choice for a college that does not fit with regionalisation,” he uttered. On his side, the director of the Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE), Mr Om Nath Varma, ensured that the new school manuals are ready. 

The New Education Structure

To implement the Nine Year Schooling system, a new Education Structure has been elaborated as per the following stages:

Primary School Achievement Certificate

Pupils are assessed in core and non-core subjects

  • Core Subjects: Written examinations
  • Non-core Subjects: School-Based Assessment

Core Subjects: English, French, Maths, and Science, History & Geography and the Asian languages / Arabic /Kreol Morisien

Non-Core subjects/learning areas: Physical Education, Civic and Values Education, IT Skills, Communication Skills and the Arts (Music, Dance, Painting, and Drama etc.)

Introducing a Modular Approach

Pupils will take a written assessment at the end of Grade 6 in English, French, Maths, and languages. Modular Assessment during Grades 5 and 6 will be in Science, History & Geography, and will be written or ICT-based. Exams are scheduled at the end of Grade 5 and during Grade 6 (end of Term 2/ beginning of Term 3). Cumulated results are carried forward. Admission to Grade 7 will be done on a regional basis. The four Education Zones will be maintained. Academies admit students as from Grade 10.

Grading System of Core Subjects



75 and above
60 and above but below 75
50 and above but below 60
40 and above but below 50
30 and above but below 40
Less than 30


The National Certificate of Education

Assessment in three compulsory subjects (English, Maths and French) and four electives from the following strands:

  • Humanities (Arabic/ Hindi/ Marathi/ Modern Chinese/ Tamil/ Telegu/ Urdu/ etc…)
  • Science (Chemistry, Physics, Biology)
  • Technical Studies (Home Economics, CDT, Visual Arts, Computer Studies)
  • Social Sciences (Social Studies, Accounts, Economics, Entrepreneurship Education)

Promotion to Grade 10 

After completing Grade 9, students have three choices:

  • retain the secondary school where they are already enrolled
  • pursue their studies in General Education in Academies
  • Follow vocational programmes in specialized Vocational Schools. Vocational education will be run in dedicated schools with state-of-the-art technological facilities


  • Academies will act as Centres of Excellence with specialisation in two to three areas: Academies will run classes from Grades 10 to 13.
  • Admission to Academies will be on a national basis
  • Academies will be co-educational institutions

Managing the Transition

Cohort of Pupils of Std V in 2017 will take

  • Modular assessment 1 in October 2017
  • Modular assessment 2 in July 2018
  • Written assessment in October 2018
  • 2 non-core subjects (Communication Skills and IT Skills)

Cohort of Pupils of Std V in 2016 will take

  • Modular assessment in 2017
  • Written assessment in October 2017
  • 1 non-core subject (Communication Skills)

Faizal JeerooburkhanFaizal Jeerooburkhan: “A child should be able to develop his capabilities”

According to education specialist Faizal Jeerooburkhan, the new reform has many good aspects but all depends on the execution. “Various issues will crop up during the implementation. Whether the Ministry of Education will be able to solve them or not, only time will tell,” he says.

As highlighted by the pedagogue, the new reform will not overhaul the system. “The reform is not bringing any fundamental changes as expected. There is no doubt that our education system should have been reviewed a long time ago. The change undertaken now is only a partial one. Competition will be the same or might even increase. Private tuition, which is snatching away the childhood of our youth, will still be part of the system. On paper, measures have been stated clearly but we still do not know how far these will be applied in reality. Also, measures have been enumerated for handicapped children and hope they will be rightly implemented.”

Faizal Jeerooburkhan explains that, as proposed, this system can help in giving a more holistic development to the child, but there are also other factors at play like parents and teachers. “Mauritius needs a system where a child will develop all his capabilities, whether physical or mental. Emphasis should not be solely on academic performance. There should be other forms of evaluation. A student has many capabilities, it is up for our system to discover and exploit them. The system should be one where a student is allowed to showcase and learn about his physical capabilities, values and entrepreneurship skills. All students must be given a chance to exploit their skills rather being examined solely on academic performance.”   

He further adds that students with weaknesses should be treated differently so that they can achieve something in life. “Our system is indeed archaic. We cannot judge the potential of a student in just one hour. For instance, a student can be very good in sports but not in other subjects. Why promoting elitism only academically. Elitism exists in various forms. So why not promoting elitism in sport, in music, dance and other forms?”

Dharam GokhoolDharam Gokhool: “There is risk we lose our brilliant minds”

Former Minister of Education, Dharam Gokhool, questions the nine-year schooling reform and asks whether the education system actually needs a reform. “There is a lot of confusion surrounding the nine-year schooling. Changing or adopting a new curriculum requires time. There is need for proper infrastructure and testing before implementing any change. The transition from Grade 6 to Grade 7 requires a lot of preparation. The curriculum needs to be reviewed.”

He further states that with this system, many students will find themselves at a loss. “Students with learning difficulties will be left out with this system. Similarly, private tuition will increase. Parents will obviously look for better regional colleges. For Grade 9 exams, parents will again want their children to get into academies. Competition will still be present. Just the quality will know a decrease.”

According to the former Minister, all countries preserve and give a boost to their elite. “With this system, there is risk we lose our brilliant minds. It will have a serious impact on the Mauritian elite.” 


Vasant BunwareeVasant Bunwaree: “There are major weaknesses”

For the former Minister of Education, he predicts that a storm is brewing. Why? “Because parents are not well aware what they are expecting. Secondly, we should not speak of Nine-Year schooling but of the Nine-Year Basic Continuous Education. Where is the basic and where is the continuous in the present system? It’s absent,” utters Vasant Bunwaree. 

The leader of the Muvman Travayis Militan (MTM) political party and former Education Minister, says that he agrees with the Nine-Year Schooling reform but does not agree with the points of Minister Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun. “I am 90% with the reform. For the remaining 10 per cent, I believe there are major weaknesses.” So what are the major weaknesses and strengths of the reform, according to Vasant Bunwaree? “The major strengths of the reform, which I agree with, because I had already initiated the procedures [during his mandate], are for example: modernising and digitising classrooms, and inclusion of extracurricular activities.” 

Vasant Bunwaree highlights that one of the major weaknesses of the reform is the continuation of competition in our system. “That is the competition continues at both Year 6 (PSAC Level) and Year 9 (Form 3 Level). CPE will be supposedly abolished but being replaced by the Primary School Achievement Certificate (PSAC) which is equally competitive and in my opinion, anti-constitutional. Also, it is forcing parents to choose colleges which are only in a region and not in another one. That is for example: a student, living in Baie du Cap, has got 5 A+ at the PSAC level. His/her parents will not be able to choose for example Royal College of Port Louis. In addition, another examination at the end of Year 9 (Form 3 level), which will be again competitive and again, parents will have to choose colleges for the coming year. Therefore carrying on with the rat race and worst than all, forcing children to take private tuition as from Year 7 (Form 1 level) which did not exist before.”

The former Minister of Education says that the reform will focus on the holistic development of children, as it is supposed to. However, he points out that “most unfortunately, holistic development will be diluted, in fact, hindered by the need for learners to seek private tuition. This is most unfortunate and a complete failure of the system which was essentially destined to do the opposite and allow the child to break the vicious ‘rat race circle’ and be freed from the bonds of rote-learning and breathe freedom in the learning process.” 

Will the reform eliminate the elitism in our education system? Vasant Bunwaree trusts that it will not do so at all. “This aspect is NOT only not changing but worsening because the CPE is only changing its name and making place for another equally competitive exam at the end of Year 6,” he concludes.

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