A Commentary By Ranger
WASSCE results nationwide for 2019 and 2020 clearly show that teachers and parents are not doing their work well in providing for and catering for their children and students to meet the rigors of learning properly in and out of the classroom that will guarantee them credible passes in public exams; especially WASSCE.
Many who went through the old system of learning put the blame first and foremost on the students and their attitude to learning these days – with specific reference to their cheating culture and lackadaisical approach to their studies.
Others blame the staff and institutions, for which as part of the remedy, the ACC has been arresting and publicly naming and shaming some of the teachers involved in exams malpractices.
From the point of the parents, many of today’s parents are too busy with bread and butter issues to have time to monitor the progress of their children in school and at home. Their children forge test and exam results.
Thus, if parents and teachers really monitored the work and progress of students, it would be hard for them not to learn and therefore hard for them to fail in both class and public exams.
Whatever we say boils down to the fact that there are too many half-baked unprofessional poorly motivate teachers in our classrooms. A cursory visit to many of the unsupervised schools will clearly reveal that many students spend the whole day in school with hardly a teacher entering their classes to teach them.
Critically, there is not much incentive given to attract and keep the best teachers in the service, as many only use teaching as a stepping stone to greener pastures which makes teacher turnover in schools very high with only those private schools that pay well being able to recruit and retain good teachers – especially in maths, the sciences and English language.
Critically, also, there is the crying need to shift the teaching and learning curriculum towards more practical Tech-Voc subjects because truth is, competence in Maths and English which form the basis for university entrance requirement is not wide in the secondary school system nationwide.
On the part of improving the quality of our students, the following strategies can be adopted by both parents and teachers:
Encourage students to be independent learners. The majority of our young people spend a considerable time on their phones.
They can therefore, be encouraged to explore concepts outside of the classroom using this tool.
On the part of the Ministry and school administrations, the future recruitment of staff should focus on employing people that have passion for education and have gone through some sort of teachers’ training in addition to the right qualification for the subject being delivered. These staff should in turn be rewarded with a remuneration package that is in line with industry standards.
Finally, breaking away from the pre-colonial education methodology that we are still tied to, we need to embrace a range of assessment methods; as exams are not the only methods to test for the knowledge and understanding of the subject being taught.
Also, given modern realities, there is a need to strengthen our vocational education. Vocational education plays a key role in providing the requisite skills that university education won’t cover. Practical skills such as carpentering, tailoring, cooking, plumbing and general entrepreneurship skills could be best honed in a vocational setting.
In a nutshell, acquiring knowledge through the formal education system is not the problem; the problem is the way in which the system is organized to create, disseminate and assess knowledge.
The curricula and methods need to be revised in line with the marketplace and educators need to take the centre stage in educating our young people about the significance of having and utilizing a good secondary, vocational and university education.
(C) The Calabash Newspaper