On the 5th of May 2017, your paper published a very sad and intellectually disturbing story titled “Sad tale of a talented inventor”. Many of us were shocked to learn that not only is Simon Petrus’s highly published invention collecting dust at his previous rural school but he also failed Grade 12 by our tertiary institutions’ standards.
Anybody with a sound mind who read Simon’s initial invention story will be able to tell you without any doubt that his invention must indeed be the work of a highly intelligent, innovative and creative pupil – one that any quality and well-functioning education system ought to celebrate. This then begs one to seek an answer to the question as to why a learner of such calibre does not get to meet our tertiary institutions’ requirements through, and or by way of, taking standardized exams. For all we know, his invention alone could and should make him qualify to any technicon or university in this land and beyond.
Given the above, the answer is an obvious one, that is, our education system has and continues to fail gifted learners. Although this group of children are not special they are undoubtedly different, in that, unlike their peers they are dynamic and as such embrace unique qualities such as innovation, creativity, critical thinking, and therefore have a tendency of questioning authority or mainstream views and accepted norms. Yet this is how they become agents of change and thus transform society, but as we all can imagine, given the fact that our education system is rigidly designed to encourage the opposite, that is, conformity, obedience, passivism, misguided discipline, group thinking and the notion of “the teacher and the textbook are always right”, it makes it impossible to accommodate, recognize and deservedly reward learners of Simon’s calibre. As a result, and sadly so, failing them miserably as opposed to the popular belief that these talented learners fail the system.
Without any fear of exaggeration, it is thus safe to say that we have a system that works best for the worse learners and works worse for the best learners.
One would therefore love to appeal to the conscience of all the education stakeholders to familiarize themselves with the modern day concept of gifted children, so as to enable them in developing programs and techniques of social and technical importance that will seek to reform our education system in the interest of inclusivity and diversity, henceforth creating a conducive environment in which Simon and many others’ inventions will be embraced and encouraged and not abandoned.
Moreover, such a system will have the potential of discouraging vague and useless certification (the everyone must have a degree to make it in life syndrome) as it will be more focused on nurturing and cultivation of real skills, talent and competency. We may want to start by benchmarking with countries that took this route; Finland is one such a case in point. Minister of Education, please do take note.
Gabriel N. Haulyamayi