Mauritius Times 60 Years Ago – Focus on the Education Department

The Education Department has lately attracted the notice of the public because the Director of Education, Mr Snell, has come out with an innovation. This time it is about the Sixth Standard Examination.

Mr Snell has explained the advantages of his new measure. At a Press Conference held at the PRO’s office he told the press all about it.

It is clear from his explanation that Mr Snell has given way in some respects. He does not insist now on the exclusive use of pencils and the arithmetic questions will be answered on separate sheets.

We are wondering why the educationist that Mr Snell is has given way after all. Has the pressure of public opinion been too much to bear? Does he think that by yielding a bit he will allay the uneasiness caused in the public? Or, has he realized that English systems cannot be blindly followed in Mauritius?

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All that is by way of introduction only. If the Sixth Standard Examination only has caught the imagination of the public it does not follow that there are no other questions concerning the Education Department worthy of attention. As a matter of fact some problems are just smouldering – nobody can tell when an eruption may take place.

At the Press Conference Mr Snell said something about a campaign of systematic opposition. May we assure him that we don’t oppose for the sake of opposing but because we feel that constructive criticism cannot be dispensed with?

We propose to throw some light on a few facets of the Education Department, which are responsible for a state of dissatisfaction in the public. Our earnest desire is to have the grievances banished from the minds of the people.

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Only last week we gave a glimpse of the shocking state of the Secondary Education. The Director of Education is visibly disturbed by it. Had he not been disturbed, we conclude, he would not have informed the Members of the Legislative Council of what is taking place at the GCE Examinations.

We appreciate this move of the Director. But we think that he must not rest content with painting a dark picture. After all, he is the Director of Education. His should be the responsibility of organizing not only primary education but also secondary education. In other words he ought to take the lead.

The colleges that have been cropping up everywhere need perhaps guidance, help and control. Is it not within the province of the Director of Education to deal with this thorny problem?

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The Training College has been in the news lately. It appears that some partiality is being shown as regards admission to the college. We cannot say very much on the Training College because there is a case concerning it before a court. But this does not prevent us from pointing out that there is a feeling abroad that by establishing a certain quota of female students the authorities want to favour a certain category of people at the expense of deserving candidates.

Speaking of teachers, we come to think that some complications have arisen in the application of the Ramage Plan to the salaries of some teachers. May we ask why complications should have arisen at all? And why have they not been ironed out up to now?

In connection with teachers again, is it not possible to have teachers for the government colleges recruited in Mauritius?

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The language problem is a problem that has not been solved so far. The solution may be difficult but, at least, Government should try to give satisfaction to the different communities.

English and French have become established languages. But that should not be the reason to have both for the scholarship examination. English only should be the compulsory language.

Oriental languages are being taught these days in some schools by about seventy teachers. It is to be regretted that the position has been quite static for some time. We are of opinion that it is high time something was done in that respect.

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We cannot end this cursory account without referring to the problem of space. It is heart-breaking to think of children to be on the waiting-list.

The other day in a Press Communiqué about the teaching of handicraft it was stated that there are 28 handicraft centres. It sounds strange that space can be found to teach handicraft but there is no room for the teaching of ABC.

We have set down some of the thoughts that are crossing the minds of people interested in the education of their children. We hope that the Director of Education will welcome them and provide the remedy where in fact remedy is needed.

* Published in print edition on 1 July 2016

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