Senior One, Four selection: What you need to know

On Thursday last week, education minister Dr. Vincent Biruta joined by the director general of Rwanda Education Board (REB) Dr. John Rutayisire and the deputy director (in charge of examinations) at the REB, Emmanuel Muvunyi released the much awaited results for Primary and Ordinary level examinations of 2013.  
Vocational institutions are a good option for learners who may not have scored the required aggregates. Education Times/File
Vocational institutions are a good option for learners who may not have scored the required aggregates. Education Times/File

On Thursday last week, education minister Dr. Vincent Biruta joined by the director general of Rwanda Education Board (REB) Dr. John Rutayisire and the deputy director (in charge of examinations) at the REB, Emmanuel Muvunyi released the much awaited results for Primary and Ordinary level examinations of 2013.

The results indicated that out of the registered candidates who sat the examinations, there was an 84.12% pass rate in the primary level examinations and a general pass rate of 85.14% for ordinary level candidates.

Even with an impressive pass rate, the fate of the students who did not do well remains somewhat uncertain.

Boarding school placement – candidates from primary level

The selection exercises will take place on 22nd and 23rd for Senior One, while for Senior Four, it is 24th and 25th this week.

Explaining the procedures and processes of the selection and placement of students who sat the Primary level examinations, Muvunyi says there are two types of placements; boarding school placements and those done at district level for district day schools.

Boarding schools are equipped and facilitated to offer accommodation and take in top students from all over the country while district schools are in close proximity to the students’ homes and are mostly within walking distance hence convenient for the students.

“The list and capacities of the boarding schools is given to Reb by the Ministry of Education. The placement of students in boarding school is done by REB based on three factors, students’ performance, students’ choices and available places in this school. Students make the choices of schools prior to the examinations during registration,” he said.

Muvunyi goes ahead to explain that the boarding schools’ placement which is done in two phases begins with electronic placement based on performance and later a closed door session with head-teachers of boarding schools.

“There is generally no set pass mark during selection and placements; it is based on the places available in the schools, the students’ performance and their choices. With that everything falls into place without external influence or bias. The cut-off points to join boarding schools are based on places available. During the closed-door sessions with head teachers, we ensure that all schools are given students depending on their capacity, after which we give a two-week period for feedback and to allow students who may want to make changes or consider those who would want to go to private schools.”

Senior 4 placements

Selection and placements of candidates who sat Ordinary Level examinations is done like that of Senior One but also factors in the combination the students prefer to take at ‘A’ level.

“The placements for this category are done just like those of senior one but we also consider the combination chosen by students during registration. It is largely determined by the places available and students’ performance in core subjects.”

Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions’ heads are usually present during the selection.

Alternative options

“The government has put in place opportunities and alternatives for students to proceed with learning based on their abilities and strengths even when they did not perform as well as the others who get placements. There are various opportunities in technical skills, technical vocational education and training” Muvunyi says.

With the various opportunities, Muvunyi says the students are able to pursue areas where their strengths lie. A small number of students, however, choose to retake the examinations in the hope that they will come out with better results.

Solange Musaniwabo, a 22-year-old former student at a technical institution in Kabuga, says after sitting for her Senior Three examinations in 2011 and not performing as well as she had hoped, she chose to pursue a career in tailoring and dress making which she thought was her calling.

“Though most would see failing as the end of the road, it is not. There are lots of options open to pursue using your different strengths, abilities and talents. Some people retake examinations and still don’t get good results,” she said.

Antoine Niyitegeka, the executive secretary of Volunteers Initiative for Sustainable Development and Anti-Poverty Campaign, a non-governmental organisation that urges the youth to take up technical skills to empower themselves and achieve self reliance, says the option is worth considering as it gives one a chance to make the most out of their lives with their unique talents and abilities. 

“For a long time there has been a wrong perception that technical skills were for those who lack ambition or can’t handle general education, which is not true. It is a chance to empower oneself with skills in line with your strengths and unique abilities.”

Niyitegeka says through the technical skills programmes, students stand higher chances of employment and the ability to create employment for others.”

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YOUR VIEWS

Nicholas Kizza, parent

They should try vocational institutions because sometimes students may not be good at theory but are good in other practical skills such as tailoring, carpentry, hair dressing among others. So instead of making them repeat classes, focus should be put on nurturing their abilities to make them self reliant.

Joselyne Marie Umutoniwase, student

I think parents should talk to their children and ask them where their passion is other than class and help them build their career.

Fred Mugisha, social worker

I think the education system should be tailored according to ones capabilities. For those who may not know their talents, they should be helped to join technical schools so they can learn skills that can help them earn a living like tailoring and building among others.

Julian Kagoyire, student

I think both teachers and parents of these children should first identify the cause of failure and advise the student accordingly. My option would be for them to repeat and work harder, engage in discussion groups to better their performance.

Anne Baguma, teacher

They should opt for TVET if we want to keep them in school because higher institutions may not absorb them. However, in cases where a student has been bright and fails at the last minute, I would advise them to repeat the class.

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