Government is rearranging deckchairs while SA education sinks ...

Ideas

Government is rearranging deckchairs while SA education sinks without trace

Education department’s hit-and-miss approach to assessment and extra marks is putting SA in dire peril

Columnist

Sometimes you can only shake your head in disbelief at the preposterous actions of the department of basic education (DBE) in response to the pandemic.

Yes, understood, there must be compassion in the ways in which we mitigate the effects of the pandemic on children’s learning and, indeed, children’s futures. As one of the leaders in Umalusi (the council responsible for examination standards) correctly put it, you cannot penalise pupils for the year in which they were born; in other words, no pupil in school right now planned to be part of a pandemic generation whose academic learning was so suddenly interrupted by the coronavirus. But in the exercise of compassion you also need to ensure competence through the assessment standards, or the very logic of the education system collapses — which is to produce well-educated graduates who are competent as citizens and workers.

It is an act of compassion to require the automatic promotion of all children in grades 1 to 3. Well done. It takes the pressure off teachers and children (and parents, by the way) and frees up the already limited time left for teaching rather than preparing, conducting and marking examination scripts. But why only grades 1 to 3? This is completely arbitrary. Why not also the intermediate phase (4 to 6) or better still, all the primary school grades? Let me be clear: there is no educationally sound reason for limiting automatic promotion to the first three grades of school...

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