CPE results were out this week and with it came its loads of smiles and tears, like every year. Children who surpassed the mates were overwhelmed while those who did not meet the required level to be admitted in the college of their choices were kind of disheartened.
Every examination puts the best in the limelight while the others are condemned to the backstage. Every competition needs winners and losers, some kind of classification some would say. Still the CPE has something different in it, something I would say, less human than any other competition and this year came looming over the head of teachers, the possible Sword of Damocles of stopping tuition in primary. Monseigneur Piat advised the banning of tuitions to Standard Five students, to the BEC and plans to extend this measure to Standard 6 students.
Well, what would that mean? Teachers are expected to provide for creative work, some kind of literacy and numeracy program after school hours. It is like insinuating that the student’s syllabus is not that bulky so that they can actually afford to lose time instead of revising their lessons which is completely wrong. At 10 years studying nearly the whole day on a weekend is not what I think is good and of course banning tuition is not going to give them more time for leisure or for proper development of their personality for the program is not compulsory and these children can, at any time take tuition at any other place. I still remember my teacher at primary school complaining about how hard that syllabus was and how we would have to work our brains to understand those stuffs, and gosh going to that time, I could hardly breathe without being in touch with revising material. Even in college I have not studied like that.
Likewise, the children are given less and less consideration, we are going towards a moral less society and instead of humans, little robots are made. Indeed, no one really aspires to gain knowledge, it is rather the certificate that counts and it is quite saddening. Once I read about a 12-year-old boy caught with a girl, of his age apparently, in embarrassing positions, and recently the story of that boy becoming dad at 12 is even more shocking. At 12, he has even seen life from a realistic point; it was always that innocent curiosity that led him to everything and sure he didn’t know about the implications of being father of a baby, especially when the mother is his own step sister. Immediately the blame fell onto the environment, onto the parents who divorced, etc., but most of the time that boy is at school and there had to be some signs that would point out such behaviour. He was crushed by a system where academic performance only matters whether or not the well-being of the child is at stake, that’s the real outcome of education in primary; rise and shine or become a marginal.
Yet what is behind the education system is that dream of the parents, that dream where their offspring live in panache and achieves what they failed to. The key to success was often thought to be education, so parents involve themselves as much as they can into forcing their beloved progenies into constantly improving academic results, no matter how gifted that child is in another domain. The republican pact is to ensure the well-being of any citizen, and by that it is meant that the State is bound to provide the necessary facilities to a citizen who deserves help to achieve his dream. That is the American dream after all. Education is A means of climbing the social ladder not THE only means of climbing. One should do what one wants and not what one is forced to. I agree that equal remuneration to everyone would cause the devaluation of certain tasks, and I’m not talking about that, but rather of a society where other fields are given the same importance as education.
The bottom line of this is that while reading and writing are modern prerequisites as well as computer literacy, they should not be the road to the intellectual development of the person unless he wants to. Arts are seriously lacking in our country and more consideration should be given to it. Local artists went international, Designer O’Reilly and Soprano Bungaroo are two examples among others. We have talented local artists, who with enough support may gain international fame. How about winning more Olympic medals or have a Mauritian favorite in any grand sport competition? What is needed is only some kind of encouragement. Tuitions will be really over when parrot learning won’t be a necessity and when the less mentally able child will allow himself to dream of a standard of living comparable to the one who succeeds in his studies. What counts is not whether it is intellectual or not, but whether it helps advance society.
* Published in print edition on 21 December 2012