Just one year after the Ministry of Education announced that it would be scrapping the automatic promotion policy for secondary school students, it has been forced to continue with the policy because of the dismal performance of many students in secondary schools across the country.
The original policy was implemented by former Education Minister Sheik Baksh who wanted to “leave no child behind” in the education system and promote all students to the higher class regardless of their performance at end of year examinations. When current Education Minister Priya Manickchand took over the portfolio of Education, she immediately launched a nationwide consultation on the issue and eventually made the decision to scrap the automatic promotion policy.
Now one year later, when the decision to throw out the policy was to take full effect, the Chief Education Officer has informed schools across the country that the “no child left behind” policy will continue and all secondary school students must now be promoted regardless of their performance at the end of year examinations that would have been written a few weeks ago.
In a circular dispatched to senior Education Officers on July 14 and seen by News Source, the Chief Education Officer, Olato Sam, informed the officials that “you are hereby instructed to suspend the implementation of Circular No. 2/2014: Automatic Promotion/Retention of students in secondary schools until further notice.”
His instructions further stated that “All students in Secondary Schools will continue to be automatically promoted as per the pre-existing circular No. 8/2009: Grade Repetition/Retention and Automatic Promotion”.
The document advised that schools will be given clear instructions regarding action to be taken in relation to this policy in due course. It also asked that teachers and members of staff of the schools be made aware of the decision.
News Source made repeated efforts on Wednesday to get a comment from Education Minister Priya Manickchand. The efforts were unsuccessful.
When the automatic promotion policy was first introduced by the former Education Minister Baksh, it received widespread condemnation from educators and teachers who said that the move would impact on the student’s performance in the classroom since they would relax their efforts to perform outstandingly since they know that they would be promoted regardless of if they were successful or not at their examinations.
Several of those teachers celebrated the scrapping of the policy last year but are now faced with its re-implementation just one year after it was thrown out.
News Source was told by senior Education Officials that the performance of students at the end of year promotion examinations was dismal for many schools, and the situation is so bad at some schools, that to not allow students to be promoted automatically would see close to 50% of some classes being forced to repeat in some instances.
Before the policy was implemented, students had to gain an overall pass rate of 50% to be promoted to the next class. Under the automatic promotion policy, their overall pass rate does not matter.