The lost generation of our education system

It took a while to sink in, but there it was; I was holding the evidence in my hands. Scrubbing my face with Jik (a powerful bleach) would not have been able to remove the incredulous look on my face.

It took a while to sink in, but there it was; I was holding the evidence in my hands. Scrubbing my face with Jik (a powerful bleach) would not have been able to remove the incredulous look on my face.

I am talking about the national examinations for both primary and secondary schools the results of which were published in the Sunday Times. They are shocking, to say the least..

Of the over 100,000 children who sat their examinations countrywide in 2007, only a paltry 26.74 % managed to achieve the pass mark.

To make the situation clearer to the reader, the Ministry of Education and the Rwanda National Examinations Council (RNEC) had even lowered the pass mark to a lowly 38%, a feat that proved unattainable to three-quarters of our children!

In 2006 the pass mark stood at 43.3% but some wise men and ladies saw it fit to be magnanimous and lower the intelligence ladder, notwithstanding that only a third had managed to satisfy the examination council.

Are we raising a generation of genetically retarded kids, or is the education system the problem? I tend to side with the latter.

The education ministry has been on the receiving end of late and it is still reeling from the barrage of finger pointing directed at the lady at the helm, Hon. Jeanne D’Arc Mujawamariya.

Not only have some schools become hotbeds for hate and genocidal ideologies, others have been turned into institutional milking cows for their owners who put profit above service.

Some schools look so tired that one is hesitant to sneeze between their walls, lest they come tumbling down. The word hygiene has disappeared from their dictionaries and been replaced instead by fat blue flies which enjoy a cosy breeding environment.

Despite the fact that education authorities have been over-generous and lowered the pass mark to ankle-level, some school officials still find the going tough and resort to underhand methods.

The New Times ran a story a couple of months ago of a school head who was nabbed while altering examination results of his students. The man had been one of the teachers who were selected to help mark the national examination papers.

This was a person who “stole” in favour of his school so as to portray it as a centre of excellence. He did not seem bothered that he was instead churning out half-baked kids who would never get the same freebie once they went out into the competitive world.
Would any parent be willing to entrust his children’s future with such a person?

To say that Rwanda has become a competitive society is an understatement, but competitiveness should not be an excuse to take shortcuts as many schools are accustomed to.

Officials in the education ministry have vowed to crack down on schools which refuse underperforming kids to sit for exams and only register those they feel will pass.
Some schools have also resorted to offloading ‘dunce’ students to other schools for a fee. All this is done to improve their overall standings in their annual classification of best performing schools and attract more students.

The ministry’s decision to crack down on schools that are sending away students simply to score excellent results might seem to be too little too late for the thousands of children who are now classified as educational rejects, but at least it’s a start.

Maybe the bug that has infected our kids has also affected me and I have failed to grasp the education policy in the country, but it does not need a nuclear scientist to realise that the current trend is destroying our children.

I would even go further to say that not giving Rwandan children a sound educational base stands on the verge of criminality.

Whatever remedy the Ministry of Education and the RNEC are concocting for the education system, they should not forget to revisit their policy of reducing the pass mark every year simply because many students failed to achieve it.

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