Education commentators have weighed in on the government’s directive instructing both private and public schools to lower the pass mark to 35%. In a circular last week, the ministry of education said the national examination board on 12 May approved the relaxation of the minimum promotion requirement for grade 1-9 from 40% to 35%, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The directive replaces the promotion requirements in the National Promotional Policy guide for primary (2015) and that of secondary (2018) schools. It is valid for this year only.
However, Hertha Pomuti, who is a former director of the National Institute for Educational Development (NIED), believes the focus should be on learning rather than lowering promotion requirements for learners. She argued lowering promotion requirements could be regarded as a “quick fix” to a complex situation that needs more time for reflection and planning. Pomuti said she is worried about the low expectations for the grade 9 learners who are expected to progress to the senior secondary phase next year. She questioned how these learners would cope with the demand for that phase. “I think the decision was made too early, the learners in those grades (1-9) have not yet returned to school and before learners and teachers could have built up resilience on how to handle this disaster. How do we know that teachers and learners will not build-up resilience and learn to cope with the pandemic and perform at the best level of their abilities?” she queried. She said there are so many uncertainties around the pandemic while noting, no one knows how long Covid-19 will last. “Does that mean we will continue to have lower expectations of our learners? We should be cognisant that we are preparing our learners for the world of work or self-employment.” Former education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa said her worry is not necessarily on the relaxation of promotion requirements amidst the new normal, but the less fortunate learners on farms and in remote areas who have never heard anything from schools since the abrupt closure in March. “I know also that there will be a good number of learners who will not be back in schools, especially in primary schools. My concern is how the promotion of those learners who are not attending classes will be dealt with since no formal test will be written but rather continuous assessment. Continuous assessment is based on continued activities, what about those who will not be in reach?” she asked. Student Union of Namibia (Sun) secretary general Benhard Kavau believes lowering the standard will compromise on the quality of education. “A better solution could be that teachers’ assessment should be based on results done on face-to-face during January to March, as that is the only true reflection of learners’ performance. It does not matter whether three tasks were done, an average can be calculated without lowering the standard. We must never compromise on the quality of education, otherwise, we will produce graduates who will be half baked,” Kavau suggested.
2020-06-22 08:52:39 | 18 days ago