Beyond the marks; skills are all that counts

Our education system is still largely an exam-oriented one. In other words students are conditioned to believe that the learning process revolves around being in class and preparing for the final examinations so that you score high marks to move to the next level.
Allan Brian Ssenyonga
Allan Brian Ssenyonga

Our education system is still largely an exam-oriented one. In other words students are conditioned to believe that the learning process revolves around being in class and preparing for the final examinations so that you score high marks to move to the next level.

Our typical system of evaluation is a three hour session of silence where one is expected to respond to a series of questions based on what one is expected to have learnt within a specific period of time. This is clearly a lot of work and many times the one with a better that can reproduce what was taught takes the day.

Unfortunately, for one to move from one level of our academic system to another, this same system is used as the criteria. The marks (or grade) that one scored are often the only determinant used. This is done by setting a cut off point below which others will not be considered for the few vacancies available.

So we can already see that the system is designed in such a way that some go through the sieve while others remain behind like unwanted residue. After exams results are announced and selections have been done, those left out spend the next days trying to find the answer to the question - What next?

However I do believe that education does not have to be about elimination. That it is not about who is in and who is out. Education should be about learning. Acquiring of skills that make one useful in society regardless of marks ought to be the focus.

We do not have to make those who fail to score high marks in an exam stupid or useless. We should start by clearly showing them the alternatives available but more importantly emphasise skills acquisition. The country needs skilled people not simply people with high marks.

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