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Education vertically integrated

20 January 2014, 09:52

THE “CULLING” OF WEAK STUDENTS TO IMPROVE GRADE 12 PASS RATE.Mrs Helen Zille 2014/01/19 discusses something I have always wondered about regarding the education system in The New South Africa since 1994. The focus seems to be to produce Academicians at all costs, and not to Educate the largest number of young people up to the levels of competency that their genes and circumstances accommodate.Many highly successful entrepreneurs in South Africa do not have a bookish qualification, but come through as highly Educated and Competent – though Un-Certificated. As the bell-shaped graph of statisticians dictates, there will a large number of people who perform in an average fashion in academic work, and another which excels in practical and technical subjects.Mrs Zille argues:The “culling” of weak students in the system is a practice designed to remove students who are likely to fail, and thus reduce the provincial pass rate. If an improvement in the pass rate is due to better “culling” techniques applied in schools, we are only fooling ourselves if we believe that a higher pass rate reflects educational improvement. We need to know what happens to the educational drop-outs who will likely remain unemployed and unemployable for the rest of their lives. Appropriate intervention is urgently required.As the New South Africa was coming into being, some “progressive” academics argued for an educational system which would allow of several Exit Certificates. An exist-Exam was proposed for the Lower primary level in which the focus would be to promote literacy and numeracy, and a respect for hand and manual work. The few who would “fail” grade 4 would if on repeating Grade 4 they still “failed”, they would get a Certificate indicating what competency they had acquired. They would then be put in a technical school whilst receiving remediation in academics. The rest would continue with the next 4 years, designed to make them useful citizens still even if they would “fail” the next exit point, Grade 8.At the grade 8 Exit level, the same procedure would apply where those that fail repeat the year with appropriate remediation. If they still fail they go into the Technical stream to acquire a relevant training and competence to be employable. Those that pass grade 8 go and face grade 12 - the pons asinorum as the old Meesters called Matric – where a similar process of allowing some to repeat and those who drop out to be still in the education system designed to ensure they become productive citizens with a skill.Post matric in the FET levels the same approach could be applied for those going into the Natural Sciences and Human Sciences streams. In the Medical Sciences, all would gain an understanding of basic sciences, then all go into basic nursing and then differentiate once they have a basic nursing certificate to do Dentistry, Medical Technology and Medicine.Managed this way, there would be no reason for Mrs Zille to be concerned about the misdirected focus on an improved Grade 12 Pass rate when we have no idea what happened all the way from kindergarten level.

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