EDITORIAL: What is wrong with ranking best schools

The final category of last year’s national examination results, the A’ Levels, was released this week. As usual, media content was overwhelmed by joyous parents and successful candidates.

The final category of last year’s national examination results, the A’ Levels, was released this week. As usual, media content was overwhelmed by joyous parents and successful candidates.

But the best performing schools and candidates did not get due recognition because Rwanda Education Board (REB) no longer ranks them according to how they fared, so it is difficult to know the best performing institutions.

REB’s arguments are that ranking encourages malpractices since some schools and districts are thought to have previously facilitated their students to cheat in order to come on top.

While incidents of malpractices fell drastically to just a handful last year, it is highly unlikely it was because of the freeze in rankings but rather more as a result of stricter monitoring.

Ranking schools and best students can have more positive effects than shortcomings or unsavoury practices because it helps inform parents where to send their children for optimum performance, it also encourages competition.

More oversight and stricter penalties is what is needed to curb malpractices in schools.

While some schools might not be the reason behind the performance of naturally gifted students, schools with consistent excellent performance need to be recognised.

That is how traditions are built. There are good schools and poor ones, and as history has shown, those that earn the title “prestigious” it is a result of their track records and they tend to produce the best students.

But competition should be reinstated, even if it means introducing performance contracts for schools and awarding the best performers as it is done for districts in socio-economic development programmes. That is what spurs good service delivery.

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