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Consider one particular aspect of ongoing reforms in education in Mauritius (for

example zep, form VI school) in view of this historical development.

Abolition of ranking
It is prevalently thought that the major defect of the Mauritius educational system lies
in the bottleneck, situation constraining access from primary to secondary education.

Abolition of ranking is indeed a historical development in education since never


before such a project has never been implemented. Though, the idea dated since 1995
in the National Education Council report “ The structure of the Secondary school
system.” under S.Bissoondoyal responsibility and in the Action plan, for a “New
System in Education (K-Pillay 1998). In the year 2002, for the first time in Mauritius
history ranking was abolished and replaced by the grading system. It was a historical
major change!

Why abolition of ranking?


Ranking has become an instrument of selection in the context of a dramatic mismatch
between demand and supply for form I places in highly regarded secondary schools.

Ranking is blind to the residential factor as admission to secondary schools for ranked
candidates is carried out on a national basis. With the abolition of ranking, schooling
reclaims its primary function, which is the holistic development of the child.

How ranking was abolished?

Ranking eliminated through a four-pronged approach.

Replacement of ranking by the grade system.


A new alphabetical Grade system replaced the ranking system as follows:
Range of Marks Alphabetical Grading
75.100 A
60.74 B
50.59 C
40.49 D
30.39 E
<30 U (unclassified)

All those who do not achieve the pass grades at CPE after two attempts will join the
secondary pre-vocational stream. The grading system is thought to develop into a
record of achievement rather than an instrument of selection so that no child is
classified as “failure”.

The school educational system will be made up of four key stages:


1. Lower Primary (3 levels –std I- III)
2. Upper Primary (3 levels – std IV-VI)
3. Lower Secondary (3 levels – Form I- III)
4. Upper Secondary (2 levels – Form IV-VI)

New state secondary schools (Form I-V)


With the intensive program of extension, renovation, construction and upgrading of
secondary schools as to vastly increase the choice of State Secondary Schools given
to students in all regions of the republic.

Transformation of ‘star’ state secondary school into Form IV colleges


The conversion of high demand state secondary schools into Form VI colleges so as
to ensure “parity of esteem” between state secondary schools (Form I-V) and thereby
eliminate the need for so extreme an instrument of selection as the CPE ranking.
Regionalisation
Regionalisation of admission is long overdue and should benefit both the schools and
the students. Children will no longer travel long distance, over long hours and at
considerable cost.

For Regionalisation, the purpose of admission to and management of schools in the


new system, the island of Mauritius will be divided into four regions.

Region 1: Port Louis and North


Region 2: Beau-Bassin – Rose-Hill, Center and East
Region 3: Curepipe and South
Region 4: Quatre-Bornes, Vacoas-Phoenix and West

Rural and urban areas in each region are combined so as to ensure effective parental
choice in as much as within any particular region.

Critics
On the other hand, abolition of ranking actually has some drawbacks at all level
throughout its implementation.

At Primary level
A Gifted and Talented Program is introduced to make curriculum more challenging
for the brightest and allow more time for what they do best. It is clear that the
brightest student will evolve with different curriculum within the same class or
school. Henceforth, other children will feel inferior, frustrated and excluded, which is
totally unfair.

Exceptional achievement will be rewarded in the form of Certificate of achievement


and/or prizes. But will those mere Certificate or prizes guarantee the production of
elite in our education system. Will the Certificates of Achievement have value or
recognition on the world market? Better motivation should be found so as to allow the
child to excel to the maximum of his capabilities.
It is mentioned that parent will have the decision to decide whether their children can
skip or repeat a year in the first two key stages. Apart the teachers and schools who
can best judge the child needs and interest in education. So, how can the parent decide
whether or not their children should skip or repeat a year? By the way, will the parent
voluntarily accept that their children should repeat? Many parents will feel frustrated
and ashamed to take such decision. The teachers, schools and Ministry must have the
final decision in such circumstances.

At secondary level
At the secondary cycle, each school will be allowed to consider the advisability of
mixed abilities or streaming classes in order not to hold back some students or make it
difficult for other to follow the class. If mixed abilities classes are adopted high-
achievers will perform very well and the others are going to feel bored and become
disruptive if their needs cannot be met in the class in which they are placed. If
streaming is implemented then elitism will prevail and giving rise to ‘star’ school
again. So, what is going to be the choice?

Infrastructure
Construction, extension and upgrading of state secondary school must be done in a
scientific way so as to cater for the child development. Standard playing court and
equipment facilities as well as green space for recreational purposes must be present
in each newly constructed school. Unfortunately, it is not the case actually where
there is only massive construction of school.
Form IV colleges
The form IV colleges also called national colleges as opposed to state secondary
schools (F I-V), which are regional ones. Students and parents will have a wider
choice of lower IV schools on a national basis but the problem of long hours of
travelling and cost rises again. Moreover, changing of school from secondary school
to lower six colleges will cause adaptation problem for many students. Moving from
one environment to another, interactions with different students of different schools
are not going to facilitate adaptation. Consequently, if adaptation is not possible then
social exclusion within school premises is inevitable.

Regionalisation
There is no point in regionalisation admission in the secondary sector until there is an
appropriate number of a good school in each area.

Interactions and socialisation of students is limited in the region only in secondary


schools (FI-V).

Rationalisation of teachers in region does not necessarily means that a balance of


experience and new teachers will be present in the various schools.

With newly constructed secondary schools parent will have a wider choice but what
about the standard of teaching in those schools. Thus, parent will only have
infrastructural choice.

Grading system

“Nivelement par le bas”


With the implementation of the grading system the problem of “Nivelement par le
bas” is bound to occur since students and teachers will work only up to a certain grade
level. Thereby, hindering child progress toward excellence as well as the overall class
and school level.
Asian languages
Asian language will be an examinable subject for CPE examination as from 2004. It is
mentioned in the report 2001“Ending the rat race” that pupils not having studied
Asian Languages before will be offered the possibility of free coaching outside
normal school hours. But how much time will be available for those children to
master Asian Language before examination. Definitely, those studying Asian
Language since childhood have definite advantage.

Impact on private secondary school


With all the facilities and amenities offered by the newly set up secondary schools
parent choices or preferences are already made as compared to the low infrastructure
standard of private secondary school. Without an adequate population closing down
or phasing out of private secondary schools are irrevocable indeed.

Conclusion
Reforms cannot be implemented abruptly or overnight when the need is felt. It is best
to start small experiment, and expand the successful while contrasting the less
successful: ‘the objective of evolutionary planning is to capitalize on ‘low risk’
quality of smaller scale innovation to increase certainty.

This in turn increases motivation and the possibility of concerted, more ‘tightly
coupled’ action across the school. This approach also permits school to take
advantage of unanticipated opportunities.

Through the trial and error of constantly experiencing attempts at school reform, we
have learned that the process of planned education change is much more complex
than implementing effective reforms is just as much a matter of good common sense
as a of fancy theories.