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“Mr Bole, School Principals and the ending of National Examinations) (Letter to the Editor 31 Oct. 2013, published 4 Feb 2014, not published)

22/12/2013

Dear Sir/Madam

Mr Bole is announcing that he would like to be a candidate in the next election, although he acknowledges he is getting on in age.

The Fiji public should judge him not on his age but his performance as Minister of Education.

There is clear evidence that the MoE has had some success in improving the percentages of secondary school age children attending school.

However, school principals should tell the Fiji public whether they see the ending of national examinations under Mr Bole’s ministership, also as an “achievement “.

As I have pointed out previously [27 February 2010] having national examinations does not imply that children must be pushed out of school.

https://narseyonfiji.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/national-examinations-you-dont-know-what-you-have-got-till-it-is-gone-the-fiji-times-27-february-2010/

You are merely assessing the performance of all children and schools by one national standard so that under-performing children and schools (especially in rural areas) are picked up early on for remedial action if necessary.

Not having national exams means that children will keep moving up without knowing their real standards, until they MUST sit some examination to qualify for some tertiary institution, in Fiji or abroad.

By then it will be too late for those not achieving acceptable standards, most likely to be from the poorer families and schools, especially in the rural areas.

I would urge school principals to urgently discuss this issue and urge the Ministry of Education to retain national examinations and the skilled but scarce assessment staff the MoE has built up over the years.

This is one policy which will be difficult to reverse by a future elected Minister of Education (Mr Bole or otherwise), especially if the skilled assessment staff have been dissipated or even lost abroad.

Professor Wadan Narsey

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