Scholarship Results 2010
Inequity of Regionalisation
The poor results in terms of the distribution of scholarships between Royal Colleges and private confessional colleges, particularly the poor results of the Royal College Curepipe in contrast with the results of St Esprit College have taken many people by surprise. An explanation is called forth. The results confirm the intended and hidden agenda of the preceding government’s educational changes, euphemistically called “reform” to promote confessional colleges as the elite colleges of the country at the expense of State Colleges.
These educational changes introduced selective regionalisation for State Colleges and left the confessional colleges untouched by the administrative changes, that is to say they were allowed to maintain their Form I to Form VI classes. A packet of financial incentives was given in return for changes that the confessional schools were required to bring about, namely that their existing colleges be transformed into Form I to V schools and to establish a number of stand-alone Form VI colleges. None of these changes were brought about, but even so the financial incentives were granted to them by the government.
The result was that many pupils, especially from poorer families who in the past would have been able to join the Royal Colleges on the basis of performance, were deprived of the opportunity of doing so. The only alternative they were left with was to join the regional colleges and pursue their studies in mixed ability classes. Consequently, they were deprived of that additional competitive stimulus which enables one to develop one’s potential to the maximum.
Not only were they deprived of the opportunity to study in one and the same institution from Form I to VI, a break was instituted at the level of Lower Six when they had to migrate to a new institution where the period of adaptation was unusually and unnecessarily long and proved detrimental to their studies. Not surprisingly many students failed to obtain the quality results that were fully within their potentialities had they stayed in one and the same institution and studied in the same educational environment with the same teaching staff.
It was very frustrating to the parents who were left with no other choice than keep their children in the regional colleges. They now realize that they have been the powerless victims of just another form of social engineering disguised as “educational reform” that was thrust upon them. They now also realize that they have been taken for a long ride by those politicians and decision makers of the time who advocated regionalisation for others but who themselves sent their own children to paid private colleges to escape the dire consequences of the Obeegadoo educational changes that were foisted on others. The bright children abandoned in regional colleges were never able to realize their full potential for only those teachers who are used to working with highflyers have the skills to identify potentially high performing students and guide them accordingly.
A different story however took place in the urban areas: middle class parents skilfully avoided the trap laid out for them by the preceding government. Once they realized their wards could not get access to the best State Colleges which had been “reformed” out of existence by the preceding government, they negotiated their way into the confessional colleges to avoid the pitfalls of those reforms.
Admission into the confessional colleges gave the urban middle class children the unfair — but legitimate — advantages of pursuing studies in Form I-VI colleges, unperturbed by the changes imposed by the government against the rural folk who were bogged down to the regional colleges by the then government. These advantages have now started showing up as is evidenced by this week’s scholarships results. Even the majority of the scholarship winners from QEC are from nearby regional colleges where the pattern of admission partly reflects the urban intake of QEC in the past except that in those times there was also a considerable percentage of bright students coming in from the rural areas.
The urban middle class bias of Obeegadoo’s changes in favour of private confessional colleges is now obvious for all to see. The ex-Minister may argue that these were the unintended consequences of his changes and that it was never his plan to devalue the best of State Colleges. Even the ex-Prime Minister’s address to the Creole organisations, broadcast in the 7 O’clock news bulletin on Radio Plus in 2001, to the effect that those changes were in the interest of the poor within the Creole community was mere sham.
Today it is clear that the educational changes favoured the urban middle class as well as the confessional colleges and have been instrumental in lowering the status of State Colleges which had in the past been opened to both urban and rural, rich and poor alike on the basis of merit and social justice. The present pattern of scholarships will continue for a few more years but thanks to the Prime Minister and Minister Gokhool, the effects of the unjust measures will come to an end by 2013. As in the past, State Colleges will shine once again as from 2014.