Wednesday, February 13, 2013

'Most African children not applying what they learn'

'Most African children not applying what they learn'
By Allan Mulenga
Wed 13 Feb. 2013, 15:50 CAT

PUPILS at primary school level in most African countries fail to comprehend basic reading and numeric skills, observes a research group. In an interview, Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) acting director Toziba Masalila said the quality of education in most African countries had been compromised. SACMEQ is an international organisation with a membership of 15 African countries.

"When you look at the general results, you will find that mostly in these countries our pupils at grade six don't acquire high level skills that they are expected to acquire at that grade. Like take reading, most of them on average you will find that yes, they can read, but they don't really read in such a way that they can read and apply," Masalila said. "But according to the syllabus, you will find that in most countries at that level they should read with an understanding in such a way that they can apply. When they read a story in the newspaper, they should be able to actually apply it or understand it beyond just reading."

She urged authorities to come up with policies to uplift the education standards in their respective countries.
"So, education ministries in various countries in Africa need to be redirected to make sure that children get the practice that they need so that they are able to apply what they learn," Masalila said.
She said various countries needed to put in place different policies to support their respective education sectors.

"My belief is that the Zambian government had been taking the results of the studies seriously to improve on policies so that education can be improved in Zambia. We are not comparing countries but we take each country within its own rights. Because we understand that facilities and policies are not necessarily the same, if compare Zambia and Botswana, maybe the facilities in Botswana are not necessarily the same facilities that you have in Zambia. So in our case, when we look at Zambia, we look at it in its own rights and trying to give feedback on whether it is making progress or not. What is it that they are lacking so that we give back to the (government) officials?" said Masalila.

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