If you have tears, prepare to shed them now!

The Cambridge School Certificate Results 2015

Pour la première fois l’aigle baisse la tête! Apologies to Victor Hugo for changing the tense, while keeping the rhythm, and also to Shakespeare, for quoting Mark Anthony’s famous line from Julius Caesar. As you will see, the quotation is fully justified by the extent of the disaster that the 2015 SC results are.

The shining queen of our educational institutions, the only real centre of excellence in the country that the Queen Elizabeth College is, has run out of steam, or so it would seem. Has she already been frightened by the fate that’s awaiting her with the introduction of the Nine Year Schooling? We are used to seeing fifty or more maidens from that institution scoring Aggregate 6 year after year, last year even beating the combined scores of our two Royal Colleges. This year the number is just 36. This is still the largest number of 6’s scored by any school in the country in 2015, but it is very much unlike the QEC.

A cursory examination of Table 1, which shows the number of candidates scoring 6 at some of our better performing schools over the years 2011 to 2015, may lead to the conclusion that, aside from the debacle of the QEC, some improvement is taking place overall in the performance of our schools. The next three institutions in the list, the Royal College Curepipe, Dr Maurice Curé State College and the Royal College Port Louis have made substantial improvements in their scores. But the overall trend is downward.

The decline is more clearly apparent from Table 2, which shows the performance scores of some schools in three bands, namely Agg. 6, Agg. 6-12, and Agg. 6-20 for the years 2014 and 2015. The minuses are much more numerous than the pluses. Only the Royal College Port Louis bucks this trend, showing positive figures in all three bands. One almost feels like saying that the RCPL is going against the fashionable trend, even perhaps against policy, for it would seem that the intention of the powers that be is to bring the level of education down.

Both the Primary and Secondary Education sectors are in dire need of improvement. Whatever improvement is intended by the Nine Year Schooling project for the Primary Sector can easily be done, and should be done, without touching the Secondary Sector. Those improvements, and many more that one can think of, are long overdue. But what the Nine Year Schooling project will do to the Secondary Sector is simply to mess it up further. It is bad enough as it is. A good education system should in my view permit half of its population reach the halfway mark in subjects studied. A score of 4 at a School Certificate subject by his pupils should keep any teacher happy about their performance. Scores of 5 and 6 always attract the comment “Could do better!” Scores of 7 and 8 are totally unacceptable after five years of secondary education.

In Table 3, I attempt to show the percentage of our cohorts of 2014 and 2015 that reach the gold standard of 4 in some subjects. The national cohorts for these years are obtained by referring back to the CPE data for 2009 and 2010. Not only does it show that the achievement rate is very low; it also shows that the performance in 2015 has been systematically worse that in 2014.

In Table 4, I show the percentage of 2015 cohort that performs below expectations. These figures show what a high percentage of our human resources is being wasted. That is the real problem with our education system. Look particularly at the figures for English Language. Are you surprised after that that people with degrees from our University cannot converse in English? God knows how they get to write their theses! I have not seen anything mentioned in the Nine Year Schooling Project that will address the problem. My very sincere fears are that the project will make matters worse.

I must mention one “solution” that some have suggested: “Do away with Cambridge altogether and let us do our own thing. Isn’t English a Creole language? Why should we go to the British for their Creole language when we have our own, and a very good one at that, at home?” Sure, carry on! That is the best route to Haiti, the land of your dreams, or Hell – which is pretty much the same thing. This last bit you perhaps don’t know yet. Very unfortunately for you, and most fortunately for the bulk of the country, the model to follow is Singapore and not Haiti.

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