Editor's Comment

Pupils need the assessments

Pupils in class.

FOR a long time, the primary school calendar was business as usual with end of term examinations as the measure for school children.
Very few primary schools mixed examinations with continuous assessment.
As a result, every pupil who entered Grade One would eventually write Grade Seven examinations when the time came.
Even pupils who were not ready were subjected to writing Grade Seven examinations.
This raised concerns that the school system was graduating functional literate school children.
Last year, the Ministry of Education revealed that about 39 percent of Grade Seven pupils got division four results in last year’s examinations but were sent into Grade Eight in 2020 despite poor performance.
That about 39 percent of the pupils who sat for the 2019 examinations got division four results is a testimony that learner performance continues to be the big challenge, hence it requires bold decisions, especially whether the automatic progression to Grade Eight is the best option.
Given this scenario, it has become imperative for the Ministry of Education to introduce continuous assessments (CA) for learners in preparation for Grade Seven examinations.
The Ministry of General Education is of the view that introducing assessments for children at primary school level, starting from Grade Four, will help improve the quality of pupils who write grade seven examinations.
CA is indeed cardinal for the learners in the early grades.
This is because CA is a form of educational examination that evaluates a student’s progress throughout a prescribed course.
It is often used as an alternative to the final examination system.
This means that starting from this year, pupils will now be assessed before going into Grade Five and other grades so that they are ready before they write Grade Seven examination.
This measure will help education authorities to identify competences and skills in pupils through this process.
This policy is long overdue as there was an outcry that the education sector was graduating functional literate pupils.
After all, CA is a standard approach in universities and colleges, although there was a protest against this by some students recently at a public university.
It is a good move because it will help each and every pupil to enhance contacts with teachers.
Teachers on the other hand will take more time dealing with individual pupils to help them.
Therefore, CA, as a means for improving learning outcomes, is good.
It will provide immediate results or feedback to the pupils’ progress as well as to teachers.
It will also reduce pressure on the pupil when writing the final exams as some of the content or marks would have already been done.
CA will be a good move as schools or institutions will be preparing in advance such as at the beginning of the year or term and plan for the continuous assessment.
It is good to see the Ministry of Education reviewing the methods of teaching pupils and the administration of examinations for the benefit of the teacher and the learner.
Education is a sector that is continuously going through changes for a win-win situation so Zambia must keep abreast with these advancements.
That said, the introduction of continuous assessment starting at Grade Four while a good idea for tracking student performance, will require additional resources not only financial but also human.
With an ever-increasing number of schools being built and expanded, as well as more teachers being recruited, this is a plan that should bear the desired fruit.

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