“Ending of examinations not an achievement”. Letter to Editor , 2 Feb 2014. Published 4 Feb 2014)
Letters to the Editor (Fiji Times, Fiji Sun, Island Business, Republika)
2 February 2014 (published by Fiji Times, 4 February 2014)
(Originally sent 5 August and 31 October 2013, but not published).
End of national examinations not an achievement
The Ministry of Education, no doubt under the instruction of the current Minister of Education, has been taking out advertisements listing their “achievements” over the last few years.
There is indeed evidence that there has been some success in improving the percentages of secondary school age children, attending school.
However, one “achievement ” listed, the ending of national examinations, may well turn out to be a disastrous measure for the thousands of average and below average schools around the country.
As I have pointed out previously [The Fiji Times, 27 February 2010] 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/ having national examinations does not require that children must be pushed out of school.
National examinations merely allow a consistent assessment of the performance of all children throughout the country, by one national standard.
Not having national examinations creates the very real danger that under-performing children and poor school standards (especially in rural areas) will not be picked up through the internal schools examinations.
Children will keep moving up until they MUST sit some examination to qualify them for the tertiary institutions in Fiji or abroad.
By then it will be too late for those not achieving acceptable standards, most likely to be from the poorer schools and families.
I would urge Fiji’s education authorities and principals to urgently discuss this issue.
I would urge the Ministry of Education to retain national examinations and the scarce skilled assessment staff and unit that 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, especially if the skilled assessment staff have been dissipated or even lost abroad.
Professor Wadan Narsey