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Education: Where to?

20th February 2013
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Editorial Cartoon

Education and Vocational Training Dr Shukuru Kawambwa on Monday announced the results of last year’s national Form Four examinations, which many say raised far more questions than anyone could give satisfactory answers to.

 First, the most obvious – before even we look at how the students and schools performed in 2012: there is a general shift in most aspects of our educational system.
The minister himself adduced to this, saying that six out of every ten students who sat for the exams failed.
 
An overwhelming 240,903 students out of a total of 397,126 ended up with Division 0, with a lowly 23,520 (5.92 per cent) emerging with Division I to III passes. Surely, this does not augur well for our education, does it?
 
Let’s put this in some context: the number of those who sat for the exams this time was lower than obtained in 2011 – which was 397,126 (96.57 per cent) and 450,324, respectively. 
 
Who will dare suggest that this does not show a decline in the number of candidates as years go by despite the noticeable rise in enrolment?
 
Looking at the general performance, one could safely say things have been slowly but surely growing from bad to worse as the nation looked on but doing little to tame the tide.
 
There is a shift in performance in favour of girls, which is a good thing. However, when we witness a rise in the number of cheats and those filling their exam answer sheets with unprintable phrases and Bongo Flava verses, who would not stop to wonder what kind of nation we want to build?
 
What the minister strangely fell short of saying goes well beyond the setting, answering and marking of our exams at various levels – what shall we see when the time comes for the enrolment of students for A-Level, college and university studies.
 
For instance, what will prevent the authorities from pushing failures into joining Form Five or pursuing teaching and other professional courses? Won’t this ultimately degenerate into a tragedy of untold proportions?
 
As a nation, we need to think aloud. In a very important way, what we have just witnessed is just another manifestation of wasted financial and other resources. 
Shall we just leave this shame to grow into a debacle or shall we be bold enough to embark on some workable programme to turn things around?
 
These exam results clearly show that the ward schools established recently but left to run without enough teachers, equipment and most other basic facilities are beginning to tell us that they are facing very hard times and should be bailed out. And for how much longer shall we leave this situation to continue?
 
One of the all-important questions here related to how many have the interests of our country adequately at heart to do what needs to be done.
 
We find consolation in the belief that the Education ministry will lead a full-scale war on the problems and challenges threatening to strangle education in our country. We only hope that is, indeed, the case – or we are in deep trouble.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN