Editor's Comment

G7s exams critical

A FEW days ago, Minister of Education David Mabumba announced that all the 388,331 candidates who sat for the 2018 Grade Seven Composite examination have been selected to Grade Eight, representing 100 percent pass rate.
According to the results released by the Examinations Council of Zambia (ECZ), 239,024 candidates obtained Divisions 1, 2 and 3, representing 61.53 percent of the total candidates that sat the examination with 149,307 candidates obtaining Division 4, the least grade; representing 38.44 percent.
From the results, it is clear that the 100 percent pass rate was not as a result of splendid performance by all pupils who sat the examinations.
This is because Grade Seven examinations are still being handled on the nine years basic education system, which entails that every pupil in Grade Seven proceeds to Grade Eight regardless of their performance.
According to the basic education policy, Grade Seven examinations are only there for formalities and not to assess pupils who are suitable to progress to Grade Eight and those who are not.
That is why even pupils who scored below 50 percent in the examination are considered successful.
While this system may seem to appeal to all proponents of access to education for all and parents in particular, it has negative academic implications on the learners.
Research has shown that examinations are an important aspect of the learning process.
For instance, examinations provide an easy tool to regularly assess a student’s learning capability and progress.
Examinations also provide regular feedback to pupils or students for further improvement.
Examinations also promote competition among pupils or students thereby enhancing knowledge and skills.
Through examinations, the efficacy of teaching methods is also determined because teachers get an opportunity to monitor and evaluate their teaching strategies.
In a nutshell, examinations play a key role in enhancing both the quality of learning and teaching.
Given the above benefits, exempting Grade Seven pupils from examinations until Grade Nine takes away from their learning experience.
Moreover education is more than just sitting in class and progressing from one grade to another.
True and quality education comes with impartation of knowledge and mind transformation.
It is pointless to take pupils all the way to Grade Nine who cannot read or write. It defeats the whole purpose of education.
The Grade Seven examinations are therefore critical to helping identify slow learners at an early stage for remedy to be provided.
It is however commendable that when the Patriotic Front formed government, it changed the education system from nine years of basic education to primary and secondary education. However, the grading system has not yet been reviewed. This is why we can record 100 percent today.
It is nevertheless comforting to learn that ECZ has plans to convene a stakeholders’ meeting to review the grading and examination system to conform to Government’s current policy on education.
ECZ director Michael Chilala says there are a number of parameters that should be reformed to conform to Government’s policy on the nine years of basic education.
According to Dr Chilala, after the reforms, ECZ will introduce fail as a grade at Grade Seven and pupils who fail to pass six subjects will not be issued with certificates.
“The aspect of passing or failing Grade Seven is going to start with the reforms. It is not there with the nine years of basic education,” he said.
Taking Grade Seven pupils through a competitive examination will enhance their sense of responsibility and encourage hard work.
The Bible says train a child in the way he should go, and that when he grows he will not depart from it.
In a similar way, introducing pupils to competitive examinations at Grade Seven will help inculcate a culture of studying and hard work at a tender age.
Needless to say, introducing pupils to examinations at an early stage does not only benefit the candidates but the country as whole through production of quality graduates capable of contributing to personal, family, community and national development.

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