KIGALI - The Ministry of Education has rejected allegations that there was decline in students’ performance in the 2007 Primary Six national examinations.
Its position comes after the concern was raised during a recent press conference by President Paul Kagame.
Although thirty-eight percent was set as pass mark for pupils to join public secondary schools, only 26.74% of the total 115,924 candidates obtained the points.
During a live broadcast town hall meeting yesterday, the Education Minister Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, said that such reduction did not mean students’ poor performance.
“It was instead a change in examination setting aimed at testing the students’ potentiality to tackle questions in the required education standards,” said the minister.
She claimed that the new standards would enhance personal knowledge.
The results released showed a drop in the exam pass mark from 43.3 to 38 percents.
During the previous year out of 119,708 students that sat national exams, at least 32.17 percent qualified to join government schools.
However, the ministry’s officials downplayed the shortfall saying that the 2007 overall performance in Primary Six national exams was good.
The need for standardised exam system was also emphasised by State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Joseph Murekeraho, who urged the public not to weigh students’ competency based on marks scored.
“With regard to the number of factors considered to weigh students’ education technical know-how, I believe the low pass mark issue is irrelevant,” said Murekeraho.
He said that the education system is undergoing reforms and that most of them do not only look at excellent exam marks awarding system, but other factors as well.
The Executive Secretary of the Rwanda National Education Council (RNEC), John Rutayisire, added that what the country went through between 1990 and1994 is taking its toll on the children’s performance.
“We have been in education transition period, but now we are at takeoff stage. That’s why application of standard reference testing is highly needed in exams grading system,” Rutayisire said.
He said that the issue that should be subject to public debate is capacity to improve the schools leadership and infrastructures, teacher trainings, curriculum and pedagogic materials.
However, callers maintained that the ministry still fell short of addressing the real issues in the education system, and instead resorted to defending themselves.
Meanwhile, Rutayisire added that preparations to harmonise Rwanda’s grading system with that of other East African countries was in high gear.
“If all goes well we shall have it in place by next academic year,” said Rutayisire.