When the national examinations for the O and A levels kicked off last week, none knew what to expect from their coffers as anxiety went up following the full shift to English this year. Fear was punctuated on the candidates’ faces, as they were anxious of the unknown.
It doesn’t mean there was anything strange as such. It was just the nervousness of being first to meet the shaver’s blade.
Rwanda Education Board (REB) indeed lived to the expectations of the anxious candidates. The setting of the examinations was different and very challenging to wobbly candidates.
The distribution of the cognitive skills tested in the exams required application and synthesis. This was a tragedy of sorts for students who cram and those who survive on copying.
At one point, I imagined that even if some students who copy were given books to copy, nothing much would be expected from them. Bravo to this year’s examiners and the examinations body.
Standards are going up each year. Graduates from this first cohort of the unitary Anglophone system will certainly be different from their predecessors. I am sure this year’s candidates will sound an alarm to their followers not to slumber as they have had to bear the aftershocks of the tightened and air tight Anglophone system.
The education officials seem indefatigable and over determined to raise the bar to have a competitive edge in the budding EAC bloc. Only the tough will get moving as the going has gotten tough already.
The reading culture will certainly improve. There is no shortcut.
As Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution postulates, it is time for the survival of the fittest. Students who cannot stretch up and out and read extensively, independent of teachers’ supervision will be ‘extinct’. The sieve is surely tight now and only the finest will survive it.
On the other hand, REB’s move to increase examination centres was another positive step in improving efficiency and convenience. This year, candidates are not travelling for long distance to sit examinations in overcrowded centres, and perhaps going hungry most of the day. There were more centres and fewer students in each centre, which necessitated strict following of examination standards in sitting arrangements and administration.
The other bold step needed from the examinations body is the strict scrutiny of the markers so that the best and most qualified are the only ones to fly the conceived dream. If not, the good prospects in the offing will be shattered in the hands of rogue markers and sweep all the gains made into the culvert.
As candidates rumble over hard examinations, educationists celebrate the camaraderie in the education body in raising standards. Higher order testing will certainly take the dissemination and consumption of knowledge to another level, while assuring the public that the best of human resource is produced.
The author is the Director Of Studies at Nu Vision High School.