The Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) has strongly opposed the minister of education, arts and culture’s proposal to raise the Grade 10 pass mark of 23 to 27 points, saying the move would send tens of thousands of learners to the streets.
Education Minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa has since early this year been advocating to raise the Grade 10 pass mark to 27 points, saying it will encourage schools to work harder.
Statistics show that last year, out of 28 870 full-time Grade 10 learners, only 13 370 made it to Grade 11, meaning that 15 600 learners could not obtain the required 23 points.
Nanso president Wilhelem Wilhelem yesterday said those learners who made it to Grade 11 last year obtained points in the region of 23-27.
“What does this tell us? If we increase the qualifying points to 29, about 80 percent of our learners will be sent to the streets,” he remarked.
Hanse-Himarwa last week defended her proposal in the National Assembly and said it should not scare people since the target is to eventually to have the minimum set at 27 points.
She said when the Junior Secondary Certificate framework was introduced in 1994, it stated that learners can only progress to Grade 11 if they obtain a minimum of 27 points, but initially the minimum requirement was kept at 19 points.
According to the education minister, it was realised at that time that a learner who scored 27 points in Grade 10 was likely to have a huge chance of proceeding to Grade 12 with little or no difficulty.
The proposal to raise the bar from 23 to 27 points has though been received with mixed reactions, with many saying the minister would be making a mistake, instead of attending to substantive issues affecting the education system.
Wilhelem said: “The honourable minister must rather redirect her energy to overcrowded classrooms, the shortage of textbooks, learners being taught in informal structures and learners sleeping in tents.
“For now on let’s get our education system in order. Let’s implement the 2011 education conference resolutions until we have at least 80 percent pass rate, then we can talk about increasing the points to 27,” Wilhelem said.
Equally, secretary general of the Namibia National Teacher’s Union (Nantu) Basilius Haingura said he is not convinced by the ministry’s proposal to raise the pass mark for admission to Grade 11.
He said it would not make much sense, since the current pass-mark of 23 is not producing greater numbers of students to proceed to Grade 11.
“First and foremost let me refresh my mind as to what the initial standard required points for admission to Grade 11 were when the system was introduced. The target was 27 points. Each year it was supposed to progress until it reached 27, which is not the case now.
“For any student who scored 27 points and above in Grade 10 the possibility of that student qualifying for admission to tertiary institutions is high. Therefore, upping the points will only make sense if it starts from Grade 8 and up. If the ministry is only targeting Grade 10 then it will be disaster,” he opined.