Interview: “There Is No Risk At Any Level”

Tar Caroline Ndzeysila epse Wiysahnyuy, Regional Pedagogic Inspector Centre Region.

Since the start of the 2020/2021 academic year, students, particularly those in examination classes have been under pressure as far as bookwork is concerned. What exactly is the education sector looking for in this kind of intensive schoolwork?

The academic year 2020/2021 has been a very challenging one not only for students, but also for all the stakeholders of education in Cameroon. This resulted from problems posed by the Coronavirus pandemic. Considering that the disease is highly contagious, the Minister of Secondary Education introduced a double shift system in order to ensure social distancing in thickly populated schools. This unavoidable decision did not come without its own challenges. The biggest challenge posed by this was at the level of work coverage rate because students going in for half time classes could not cover all their required hours. The pressure on the students came about because the Minister in a bid to solve this problem introduced Distance Learning. The pressure fell more on students of examination classes because of the urge to cover the syllabus before official examination period.

With such intensive schoolwork, what evaluation do you make of students’ results?

Evaluations are carried out in the usual pattern; there is no problem at that level. The success rate is at 70 per cent. Though tedious, the Minister's decision has been very helpful to the students because it has enabled them to meet up with their studies and stay safe. It has equally enabled them to become familiar with new methods of teaching and learning, which other countries have been practicing over the years. Permit me observe that annual work coverage so far ranges between 78 to 85 per cent. Thus, we still have third term to complete the programme.

According to school administrations, everybody seems to want to cover the curriculum as a pertinent objective before public examinations begin. Of what importance is this when students are saturated and assimilating less of what is already being taught?

Official examination questions for this academic year, like in any other academic year, cover the entire official syllabus. Hence, if a school fails to cover the syllabus then the students of that school will face difficulties in answering official exam questions. Saying that students are not assimilating what is being taught could be considered as an overstatement because with Competence Based Evaluations, we have what is known as formative and summative evaluations. The former is ongoing while the later comes at the end of a defined period. With the formative evaluation, the teacher judges student' performances progressively as they teach. This is what teachers are doing in their classrooms to help them judge learners' performance. Assimilation and comprehension rates to the best of my knowledge are good.

With such intensive school programme, is this not risky to the final performance of students?

Everything is in order, so there is no risk at any level. The effort put in by the teachers, students and inspectors is a tedious one but all is being covered.

There is the Competence-Based Approach (CBA) where students can learn at variable pace and be assessed as such. This means taking students through an intensive school programme is not necessary. Why not adapt the CBA in evaluating students?

The present official syllabus is competence-based. What is programmed in it is what is required for the learners to acquire the necessary competencies. The present evaluations carried out in schools are gradually working in line with this.

 

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