14 Jul 2013 06:20
By Anna Kharuchas
WINDHOEK, 14 JUL (NAMPA) - An education policy which has seen learners pass grades they have not met the requirements to proceed from, is in the process of being reviewed by the Ministry of Education (MoE).
The automatic promotion policy is a practice which involves the transferring of learners to the next grade without them having attained the basic competencies of that grade.
The Ministry of Education?s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Romeo Muyunda confirmed to Nampa on Friday that the automatic promotion policy is currently under review by that ministry as they are busy consulting schools around the country on the policy.
Approached for comment on Friday, the principal of the MH Greeff Primary School in the capital, George Kandetu expressed his disapproval of the system.
?Abolish the whole system of automatic promotions. It does not do us any good, because it creates the impression that we [teachers] are doing good. In our time, you either passed or you failed. What is the problem with that? Let us go back to that,? he stressed.
Kandetu explained that the practice is being implemented in three phases - the lower-primary phase (Grade 1 to Grade 4); upper-primary phase (Grade 5 to Grade 7) and Junior Secondary phase (Grade 8 and Grade 9).
?If a child has failed a grade in one phase, it means that in the next year if the child fails again, they are automatically promoted.
In other words, you are only allowed to fail once in a phase as the second time you fail another grade in that phase, you are automatically promoted,? Kandetu stated.
He added that the automatic promotion policy creates more problems than it solves.
?This culminates in the grade 10 situation... Our learners are being promoted in that way, and end up failing in Grade 10. These are mostly the learners we then find on the streets,? the educationist noted.
?In essence, it actually means that you are promoting a problem. A child has failed a particular grade, and they are automatically promoted after having failed that particular phase before. At the end of the day, you have transferred that problem. The problem is not addressed,? he charged.
According to Kandetu, the MH Greeff Primary School has automatically promoted approximately six to 10 learners annually in Grades 5, 6 and 7, respectively.
?I feel that this has to be revised, because apart from the fact that you are transferring problems, it creates a laissez-faire attitude in the children because they are not working for any particular goal,? he reiterated.
The MH Greeff principal also acknowledged that some parents may not be aware of the automatic promotion system because learners' reports do not indicate that a specific learner has moved on to the next grade through automatic promotion.
?It is more of an administrative issue, so the teacher will know what is happening. In a way, we keep it to the office,? said Kandetu.
However, parents can always enquire about whether learners were automatically promoted, and this information will be provided to them.
In addition to the practice of automatic promotion, schools are meant to have learner support programmes, especially for learners who are automatically promoted.
Learner support involves the identification of learners with academic shortcomings in areas such as reading, writing and arithmetic, and aims to assist them in groups of 10 to 15.
Kandetu, however, felt that the attendance of learner support programmes is ?very disappointing?, with parents citing transport problems as the reason that children are unable to attend these classes.
Also approached for comment, Eldorado Secondary School principal Hansie Hendricks echoed Kandetu?s sentiments.
?The automatic promotion policy should be abolished. It is one of the biggest reasons learners fail Grade 10,? said Hendricks, who spoke to this news agency on Friday.
He said last year, only 28 per cent of learners at the Eldorado Secondary School passed Grade 10.
?This year, I am hoping for an improvement in the results because we have decided that if a learner does not deserve to pass a grade on merit, they will not be promoted,? he noted.
Hendricks stated that learners are forced into the academic stream because Namibia lacks special and technical schools. Learner support programmes are also not working well at his school.
?There is poor attendance. Learners have their own agendas, and are in any case forced by parents to attend school,? said Hendricks.
Meanwhile, the review is most likely a result of recommendations from the National Conference on Education, which took place from 27 June to 01 July 2011.
This review is being carried out by the National Institute for Educational Development (NIED), which falls under the Education Ministry.
According to a report carried in local English daily New Era in March 2011, the late Minister of Education Dr Abraham Iyambo said the automatic promotion policy would feature prominently at the National Education Conference.
He said over the years, it has been responsible for ?churning out half-baked learners? onto the streets, subsequently leading to poor performances in schools and countless young, unskilled Grade 10 drop-outs.