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Malawi government belittles examinations

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Amid apprehension from some stakeholders over the abolition of the Junior Certificate of Education (JCE) examination, government has said while examinations are part of the learning process, they are not the main objective of education.

According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, as part of the ongoing Public Service Reforms, government will from the next academic year phase out JCE examinations.

The last JCE examination, says the ministry, will be administered in 2016 for the current Form 2 students.

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Addressing the press in Lilongwe Thursday, Education Minister Emmanuel Fabiano said secondary school students, who will sit for the Malawi School Certificate of Education Examination (MSCE) and fail, will be awarded a Certificate of Completion.

The paper, according to Fabiano, will recognise the fact that the owner went through and completed secondary education, saying the paper will show knowledge, skills and values acquired by secondary school students and not the number of public examinations passed.

“It should be understood that the only reason we send children to school is for them to learn and acquire the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes as set out in the curriculum,” he said.

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He added that his ministry would like to promote the practice of continuous assessment from Form 1 through to Form 4 in order for schools to thoroughly cover the curriculum as opposed to the current practice which is, to a greater extent, examination oriented.

“In fact, most of Term 3 of Form 2 is spent on preparing for JCE examinations and not learning for understanding.

“In order to promote continuous assessment, the Ministry plans to strengthen the cluster examination system which will be used as part of secondary school teacher development activity and students learning hubs in line with the plans of the Ministry which intends to resource these cluster centres better than is the case currently,” he said.

He further disclosed that the Ministry of Education is implementing the National Education Standards for Primary and Secondary Education from September 2015 which will specify expected outcomes for students which should be delivered by all education providers in public and private institutions.

The Education Minister further justified the abolishment of JCE examinations by arguing that employers, including government, have set the MSCE as a minimum entry qualification for employment.

“The Ministry appreciates the concerns by the public that removal of the JCE examination might negatively affect learning in schools because students will relax before they are required to sit for the MSCE examination,” said Fabiano.

He, however, said his Ministry has structures and assessment tools in place to monitor students’ progress and give appropriate advice to teachers in areas of improvement through its Directorate of Inspection and Advisory Services (DIAS).

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