In this article, Jayraj Sookdeb, a professional in the field of education, shares his views on the Nine-year Continuous Education project.
Implications, Comments and Suggestions:
- The common Form Three (F3) examination for the National Certificate in Education (NCE) will be a useless qualification: those who will obtain it will definitely pass the SC (if not at their first attempt, at their second or third) and so the NCE certificate will be of no great use. Those who fail the form three exams will not receive the NCE certificate. Therefore, in general, possessing or not possessing the NEC certificate doesn’t make any difference.
- In many colleges, the pass rate at the School Certificate (SC) exceeds 90%, reaching 100% as well. So why torment and scare the pupils with the form three competitive, qualifying and selective examination?
- Like the CPE, the national F3 exams to be reckoned for certification must be organised and conducted under strict exams conditions. The CPE swallows around 80 million rupees every year, the F3 useless certificate exam in about 20 subjects will certainly swallow over a hundred million rupees.
- After the F3 exams, a reshuffling of admissions to Form Four will be impracticable, as in colleges of high pass rates, which are the most sought after, vacancies will not arise or will be very few.
- Among the academies, who will go to Q.E.C, who will go to Dr M. Curé State College and others? (a) It appears that Rankingwill be necessary and it is dreaded. (b)All colleges will be automatically involved in the F3 exams competition whether they want it or not and their reputation will rise and fall depending on the number of pupils they produce for the Q.E.C. and the Royal Colleges. (c) Subject combinations will render their selections enigmatic to proceed to Form Four.
- From the group of academies, only the Q.E.C. and the Royal Colleges can be prized and attract students from Form Four onwards. School-based assessments cannot be trusted in the contest for seats.
- Electives in the fields of Science, Social Science, Humanities…..must be made at the end of Form Two but this is too early for pupils to ascertain their aptitudes for the subjects.
- If a student passes F3 in six subjects with credits and distinctions but fails in English, will he be prevented to go to Form Four?
- The F3 exam/certificate should not become a stumbling block or prerequisite to proceed to SC or GCE O Level because in Great Britain, formerly the GCE O Level by Cambridge, London, Oxford, Associated Examining Board (AEB) etc. never imposed any preceding qualification to enter for the examination.
- The CPE rejects around 25% of the pupils without the primary certificate. The F3 exam, which must be of a higher standard than the CPE, will in its turn reject about 20% which means three or four years wasted by these pupils in secondary education.
We must have a moral obligation for children who pass the CPE and who join the main secondary stream with the hope of studying to the end of the form five cycle and sit for the prestigious SC exam. Instead of having some failed at the end of form three and diverting them to other kinds of education, we must arrange with Cambridge University to add Grades 9, 10 and 11 to the traditional existing eight grades. Thus candidates who do not score the Grade 8, because of their lower marks, can be awarded the Grade 9 and the Grade 10 which must be regarded as attainment grades and which will qualify the candidates for vocational training/ education. The 9 and 10 Grades will motivate teachers to work and low performers to make efforts and learn. The lowest grade 11 will not be recorded on certificates.
Nine-Year Continuous Education (NYCE) is an irritating, circuitous and problematic conception to create Academies mainly with the Royal Colleges, Q.E.C. and Dr M. Curé College in order to elude the pressures of primary education to join them. On the contrary, the transition to Form Six Colleges a decade ago was not perceived to be complicated.
So to be relieved from the traumatising primary education, other more convincing, rational, stable and simple strategies than the NYCE must be explored and welcomed. It is not late to change. What follows is an example for NYCE immediate and durable substitution.
There will be no Upper Secondary Schools, no Academies, no Form 3 Exams and no restructure. All colleges for primary elites will be maintained.
National competition for admission to colleges/secondary schools will discontinue. There will be no ranking as in the past or A+ and Performance as at present. An innovative system of Group Ranking of pupils restricted to their respective school they attend will be adopted.
School-based Group Ranking will be determined by the power of total marks of pupils in their five best performed subjects, four if there are objections, and sitting for the exam the first time only.
There will be initially six groups in every school (three for boys and three for girls).
The number of ranks in each group will be 7% of boys/girls represented by a school.
Example: School X: 30 boys - 45 girls.
7% of 30/45 yield 2 boys/ 3 girls (figures after decimal point ignored)
Group 1 ranks: Boys (1st, 2nd). Girls (1st, 2nd ,3rd)
Same procedures for Groups 2 and 3 i.e. Group 2 will contain boys ranked 3rd and 4th but interpreted as Group 2 (1st and 2nd) and boys ranked 5th and 6th will be interpreted as Group 3 (1st and 2nd)
The number of ranks in each of the three groups will differ from school to school depending on the number of candidates they send for the exam, but will be limited to fourth.
From our 300 schools Group One will comprise 700 boys/girls (300 first, 250 second, 100 third and 50 fourth ). 5A+ were providing almost the same number.
Group 1, Group 2, and Group 3 of all schools will in totality offer 2,100 boys/girls almost the same number as the CPE Ranking and so involve all the primary geniuses of Mauritius and accommodate them in the best colleges.
Note: To be eligible for Group One, pupils must have a minimum total of 350 marks in five subjects- the equivalent of 70 x 5.
COLLEGE ADMISSION GUIDE
All colleges will retain their grades, categories and specificities (religious/cultural/gender wise) but will be classified as colleges for Elites and General Colleges.
The Elite Colleges will admit all the pupils of Group 1 formerly reserved mostly for the 5A+students. The boys’ Elite Colleges will be, for instance, the Royal Colleges, John Kennedy College, Moka M G I, 50% of seats in St. Esprit College, St Joseph College etc.
Below these colleges there are many colleges of repute to form part of the General Colleges which will receive pupils of Groups 2 and 3 about which parents of elites cannot complain.
The principles to guide admission are: Group I will have priority over group 2 and rank 1st will have priority over rank 2nd. Group 1 must be exhausted before proceeding to Group 2.
To complete admissions to a college if e.g. 40 boys only are required from a rank list of 155, 40 boys will be favoured from bigger schools whose cohorts exceed the rest -115 schools.
After Group 3, Grade/ Aggregate will be consulted for admissions of the remaining cohort or additional school-based group ranks composed if desired.
Pupils in the group ranks will not be bound by the boundaries of regions and zones.
The General Colleges will absorb all the remaining pupils whether elites or non-elites or primary failures
ADVANTAGES OF SCHOOL-BASED RANKING.
Pupils will compete among themselves in known and familiar situations contrary to the abstract and unknown national situations necessary for CPE Ranking or A+ and Performance. Competing in school or class contexts are normal practices in education.
All schools will have their primary laureates for the Royal Colleges and other colleges of the same order.
All primary schools will be regarded as being good. All Grade 6 teachers can get the honour to be laureates producers.
In schools where there are two or more streams, to prevent degrading and disappointment of teachers for not producing any laureate, Grade 6 teachers will be known as Class Masters like Form Masters in colleges. A class master will be in charge of a class e.g. section 6A or 6B or 6C, but will not teach all the core subjects in the same section. There will be swapping among themselves in the two/ three sections. They will work as one or two subject teachers. So, all Std. V1 teachers will contribute and get the honour for the laureates produced in a school.
Private tuition taken at schools by elites who influence it must not be tolerated. To come out 1st or 2nd or 3rd at school level is the outcome of normal school hour work. It will not be convenient for two or three Class Masters working in the two or three sections to give tuition to their pupils at school in the afternoon.
Private tuition taken by the whole class from their class teachers do not make any pupil much better than others. Pupils who are usually 1st and 2nd remain 2nd or 1st and the last can remain the last.
School based ranking warrants transparency in the admission of pupils to the secondary.
School Based Ranking is a magic solution for the stress and strain affecting pupils, teachers and parents participating in the rat race for star colleges.
Jayraj Sookdeb, B.A Dip. Ed, London
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