EDITORâ€”The governmentâ€™s latest policy of promoting all children in UPE schools (Boona Bayite) has its merits. However, it also has disturbing implications on the quality of education the school leavers churned out will have. It raises the question of the purpose of education.
If the policy is implemented in its present form, we will, at least theoretically, have the situation of a pupil scoring 0% in every examination from P1 and still emerging out of the system, after seven years, as a primary school â€˜graduateâ€™.
If the Boona Bayite policy is extended to the Universal Secondary Education, we may soon have senior 6 leavers that cannot do basic arithmetic, or construct an English sentence.
In other words, the level of education will not imply the knowledge that one has, but the number of years one has been in school. If truth be told, even in the absence of Boona Bayite, the level of education in public schools is dismal these days. Why worsen the situation? It has been argued that pupils get frustrated and discouraged when they are compelled to repeat classes.
Of course the idea of repeating (or retakes in universities) was not invented to frustrate or punish anyone, but to help the slow (or uncommitted) learners benefit from the school system. Far from getting discouraged, learners should be grateful when they are given an opportunity to repeat.
They should be helped to realise this, rather than be allowed to advance just to preclude their frustration.
Government and donors may say that they do not have money to â€˜wasteâ€™ on repeaters, but do they have the money to waste on seven years of â€œno changeâ€?
Wouldnâ€™t it be better to limit sponsorship to seven years, while still retaining the policy of repeating?
In this case, some repeatersâ€™ sponsorship would expire after they have completed P.4, but at least they would have learnt something even if they cannot sponsor themselves further. Wouldnâ€™t we rather limit the number of times one may repeat, instead of doing away with repeating altogether?
Moreover, there are people, some of them pupils, who commit themselves to some endeavours because of what might happen if they donâ€™t do so.
Removal of the â€œterrorâ€ of repeating may remove some of the commitment of such pupils to their studies.
Nick T. Twinamatsiko
UPE should aim at quality education