Pupils to pass even if they fail? SA’s schooling goes from bad ...

Ideas

Pupils to pass even if they fail? SA’s schooling goes from bad to worse

There is an official document that claims ‘children who repeat, on the whole, gain absolutely nothing’. What?

Columnist

There is an official document doing the rounds that comes from a powerful committee of the department of basic education containing a “proposal to implement automatic promotion in the Foundation Phase”. Depending on whom one speaks to, the proposal either exists as a discussion document or it can be regarded as fait accompli. Let me be clear: if this policy is implemented, it would be the final nail in the coffin of an already collapsing primary school system.

Think about it. A child fails in Grade 1 and is promoted to Grade 2. The child fails again and is promoted to Grade 3. By the time these promoted children get to Grade 4 there would be large numbers of children who are illiterate and innumerate putting pressure on the system to continue the madness of promotion into the next phase of schooling. I cannot think of a greater disaster that can be visited on primary schools, where already most of our children (almost 80%) cannot read at the grade level. Why would the government do this to poor children?

The proposal, citing unnamed experts, makes a number of spurious claims. To begin with, the document argues that “it does not make any educational sense to make young children aged six to ten years, to repeat a grade”. First up, this is nonsense. On the contrary, it makes profound educational sense to promote children on grounds that they have mastered the content of one grade as the basis for success in the subject in the next grade. That is why the school curriculum across much of the world is organised on the simple principle of the spiral curriculum; that is, knowledge from one grade to the next is designed for increasing complexity even as earlier content is reinforced...

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