Are you worried about education reforms?

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According to Wikipedia ‘Education reform is the name given to the goal of changing public education, or changing the existing system from one focused input to one focused output, e.g. student achievements.’

Recently, the minister of basic education Katrina Hanse-Himarwa announced that the ministry will increase the qualifying points of both grades 10 and 12 within the next two years to improve standards in the country.

Allow me to fly your thoughts to Sweden for a moment. Swedish students used to lead international rankings, but the country’s education system has been declining for years, since they introduced the ‘voucher scheme’.

Many education experts have lashed out at this initiative “as a disastrous experiment”. But there are good reasons to believe the problem is not school choices. This is because Sweden’s voucher scheme coincided with a host of other reforms. Most significantly, a change in the national curriculum in 1994, which emphasised individualised learning over teacher instruction.

Studies prove this was the reason for the drop in student performance. (Sweden duly changed its national curriculum again in 2011.)
Norwegian schools implemented similar curriculum changes in the 1990s and saw similar unfortunate results, whereas Finland concentrated on teacher-led pedagogy and saw an improvement in student performance.

Hanse-Himarwa, who is the lightning rod of free education in Namibia, was placed on top of a devil’s fire on social media because of the proposed increase in the passing requirement.

Change is hard. Yes, but what is education? When should education begin and how do we provide it. Every child, no matter where he lives or how much his parents earn, should have the option of free education and the state has provided this fundamental right.

Choice? Check. Accountability? Check. Changes to the curriculum? Check. Should we hire more teachers? Are there some teachers that ought to be fired? I believe if the ministry looks into these responsibilities, there is no reason to believe that we cannot accomplish our goals and an increase in passing rates and help our schools evolve at the same time. We can introduce more choices into our system and still keep it genuinely public. We can raise opportunity, which simultaneously holds regional education offices responsible for student learning and motivation.

For things to change, we must change.

Hionel Apollus
Bangalore, India

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