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CHAPTER 9: CONCLUSIONS The aims of the research were broadly two fold: to establish trends and patterns of achievement

and to develop understanding of the processes and intervening factors which operate at the level of the family and the community to promote or hinder achievement: • • 9.1 General remarks : There have been generally very negligible or statistically insignificant fluctuations in achievement in an upward direction although sporadic improvements have been registered in certain subjects areas at all levels. • The remarkable stability and predictability of trends at CPE is disquieting insofar as it appears that stakeholders have devised strategies to beat the system by focusing on specific aspects of the question paper. Given the set format of any examinations paper, in English for example, 60% of students earn 0 marks in essays and a large proportion do not even attempt it, and still score good grades. Benchmarking processes for a pass or a fail have been devised based on a series of graded competencies spread over a period of six year for CPE and it is only after six years of schooling that the inability to demonstrate minimum mastery is formally established. It is probably high time to review the system of automatic promotion at primary level so that learning difficulties are identified early and remedied .

There exists marked performance differentials at the level of subjects, gender and schools: (i) The data has revealed that achievement levels in French have been higher than any other subjects at CPE, SC and HSC whereas achievement patterns in English is a cause of concern. It appears that

Failure % has remained more or less stable at 30% at SC although at HSC level 35% score either A or B. The % of students in the D and E range has increased by 20% from the beginning till the end of the period(1990-2004). the precedence must be given to the psycho-social . Even with the screening and selection process that takes place as students proceed up the educational ladder. The better achievement in General Paper in the very same brackets should be cautiously interpreted as GP marks not only language but more weight is allocated to content. (iii) The patterns observed strengthens the opposite view that educational achievement is determined by factors outside the school. Mathematical skills are considered as essential skills which form the basis of logical thinking. the data seems to militate against the view that schools make a significant difference in the educational achievement of its pupils. The extent of the problem can be gauged by taking into consideration that a D grade at CPE level means that the student has at most scored 50%. even if a consensus is reached whereby the two processes are perceived as interactive. (ii) Students fare poorly in Mathematics at CPE level and a marked shift towards the lower end of the scale has been registered over the period. Indeed. The fact that around 40% of students coming out of primary schooling have not mastered the ELCs is a sure cause of concern. patterns are telescoped from CPE. If one assumes that ability is normally distributed. The patterns observed raise a number of pertinent issues in a context where English is the official medium of instruction and is bound to affect achievement in all other subjects which require students to express their ideas in English as has been highlighted in examiners reports for EVS and Business Studies.students are rarely able to make up for their earlier difficulties and that the number of students in the higher achievement brackets dwindle systematically as we move up the educational ladder. SC to HSC levels.

In science. Maths. despite the generally poor results candidates seem to display every year. the % failure for girls is decreasing whereas for boys. The case of Business Studies. Economics and Biology is exactly the reverse in terms of achievement although Business Studies continues to be very popular. Girls are not only maintaining their lead in ‘traditional’ subjects like languages. French and Accounts continue to be not only the most popular choice but also most scoring subjects. what strategies have been devised to address the shortcomings in terms of our teacher preparation and continuous professional development and secondly how do we ensure that proper career guidance to students at the time of subject selection? There does appear to be a number of myths regarding the facility index of subject and the specific skills that are necessary to succeed. The indicators used signal that boys’ attainment is lagging behind girls attainment at all levels even when the statistics are balanced for initial entry gap.approach highlighting the centrality of family background factors in attainment/ and achievement. they are also quickly closing the gender gap in subjects where boys traditionally use to dominate. it appears to follow a more or less upward trend. • These trends should however not obscure the fact that boys in high performing schools still achieve very consistently and that the gender variable become more acutely visible when coupled with variables of school type of low . (iv) At SC and HSC. The situation must be considered taking into account the number of manhours and other resources which are injected into teaching the subjects. Two issues need to be underlined here. Girls are also more likely to earn distinction in language and have lower failure rates in both languages and Maths. On the one hand. • There are relatively striking gender disparities which need to be highlighted. The issue at hand is not so much about girls’ achievement but boys’ underachievement and how to pre-empt the beginning of a problem similar to the one experienced in developed countries.

then one can conclude that the school effect is almost null. Generalizing would then obscure intricate trends. teacher qualifications etc. Coastal. in the highest performing state schools. Rural. But. • In addition to this. the “school type” effect appears prominently – Urban schools. . • School type is the third parameter which registered differential achievement. it is difficult to attribute a causal relationship between school type and educational achievement . However. because of the 5 star schools. the distribution is less skewed. suburban and coastal schools. The Confessional. girls maintain their clear lead. but could we potentially attribute this statistical feature to a different orientation in philosophy of education and the publicly declared philosophy of liberal education and a model of inclusive pedagogy that is claimed to be adopted by the latter. analyses the outcome of schooling in an output-input model. This is a seriously worrying indication of one. • The ‘distance’ between Private versus State and Confessional schools must be underlined but interpreted with caution.performing private schools in suburban areas. On a first round of region wise of CPE trends across Urban. State and Private schools categories showed clearly the lead of State schools in almost all subjects in the high category bracket although for Confessional schools. No direct conclusion can be drawn. If there is already differential intake at entry point. such is not the case of private schools where there is a wide disparity among educational facilities. lead the way followed by rural. Suburban demarcation. If these parameters are not monitored / or accounted for. Confessional and State schools have standards of infrastructure which are comparable. there is also the differential clientèle effect given that till 2000. streaming was applied and the best students were absorbed in SC and HSC. Achievement differentials are widest in English and Maths and lowest in French and EVS.

should however be noted . This seems to be in stark contrast with the well received belief that teachers generally teach for the average students. school type and gender. It was posited in chapter I that one of the reasons for mapping . needs to be understood in the light of an examination that has long been constructed as a selection process and our system has been exam driven.• Sciences also present a dismal picture of low achievement especially in average and low performing private schools. • The achievement patterns produced at different levels coupled with the analysis of examiners report gesture strongly towards poor language skills and an inability to help our students to think autonomously. The examiners report across a number of subjects at both CPE. The pattern produced in terms of ability distribution is the exact opposite of the bell curve. There does seem to be a relative problem of under-achievement in girls’ confessional schools regarding science when their performance in other subjects are concerned. • One striking feature of the data at the CPE level is the stability around average achievement across subjects. • The last point relates to our understanding of evaluation and of the function of schools. C is remarkably stable and this bracket appears to be totally immunized against change. SC and HSC converge in highlighting the view that many students do not show evidence of having developed higher order thinking skills needed for analysis and evaluation. The excellent performances of candidates at the higher end of the spectrum. • Changes in A and B are mirrored in the D and E grades. The % of students scoring grade. which is contrary to prediction. Pedagogical processes may have been oriented towards the benchmarks set for examinations rather than curriculum guidelines. Why is our system and our schools producing such a statistical pattern? Such a statistical phenomena. not to mention divergent thinking/problem solving.

But these variables are located within a complex social matrix consisting of the peers. The picture which is produced reveal a dismal pattern of achievement heavily tilted at the lower end of scale. Low achievement in English is carried over till the end of schooling whereas achievement in Mathematics is reversible. Using the educational production function approach it seems empirically legitimate to claim that returns on the national investment is very low in quantitative terms. • The questionnaire revealed that the educational achievement trends of the sample for the period under study match the findings of the population data obtained in the first part . The inadequacies of the social environment appear to be a serious hindrance to language learning which explains the irreversibility of trends in English. the only concrete measure of achievement was the trends of students’ performance at the level of end of cycle examinations. • In conformity with the existing literature which posits that the role of the family is central to explaining achievement. A large number of parents only visited the schools on open days and their basic concern is academic achievement. Though it was acknowledged that the benefits of education could not be measured at a point of time but over time. neighbourhoods and communities. It appears that parental involvement is perfunctory and reactive rather than pro-active and informed. • Parents with a higher educational attainment were more likely to meet teachers to learn about their children’s performance. it was also underlined that in Mauritius. the data from both Survey and Case studies reveals the variables of parents education do impact on both attainment and achievement. Such data is supportive of the socio. The systemic deficiencies in this regard needs to be addressed .linguistic approach to language learning. Parental involvement is construed as a key factor impacting on education in the current research landscape and has not been given enough attention in the Mauritian context.achievement was to assess the returns of the country’s investment in education.

• Participants whose parents demonstrated high level of “demandingness” together with support have achieved more. networking and availability of high achievers as role models in the micro and meso system. The home lifestyle defined in terms of discipline and belief in hardwork and the worth given to education could also make up for formal educational achievement. The provision of these seem to have .• The role of parents in setting high expectations and creating a home atmosphere which is conducive to achievement motivation has been established in the case studies. although there is a hint that authoritarian parents may very well work against the achievement of their children. educational resources. • The life stories of some participants whose parents were not highly educated indicate that low educational achievement of parents was not necessarily a barrier to achievement of their children. • Families have themselves been heavily influenced by the overarching principles and values set by their neighbourhoods and communities. Parents who encourage autonomy and initiative foster a strong sense of self and high efficacy. A strong and strict discipline set with clearly defined parameters in early years strongly influence children’s perception of themselves and their later attitude towards efforts and delay of gratification. The neighbourhood and community effects could offer a partial explanation to the patterns of achievement of schools in sub-urban and coastal regions as compared to urban and rural regions. • Social Capital is articulated in terms of access to free tuition. High educational and life achievers have had parents who have taught them at an early age the skills and values which have effectively prepared them to face the demands of school or work. Family capital appeared to have been a derivative of social capital and both strongly impinge upon life trajectory. The social worth of education has been highlighted in some neighbourhoods and communities while they have been discounted in others.

However. Peers could also provide enhanced motivation whether they function on competitive and collaborative lines.2 Food for Thought Two central issues have emerged from this study: (i) The blatant underachievement of our system. we demonstrate the courage to do away with bureaucratic. as a nation. • Peers seem to have played a crucial role in life of respondents.enable single headed families or families with low resources to overcome their initial “deficiencies”. The system of education must be emancipated from the political and bureaucratic inertia which has characterised it and produced the patterns of achievement . If we are at all serious and honest. schools appear to be doing exactly the reverse! The entire system needs to be overhauled and a completely new paradigm adopted instead of a piecemeal approach . Starting from the premise that ability is normally distributed in our student population at primary level. • 9. The data has revealed that the peer group can influence educational expectations and aspirations as well as provide a support system whereby vital educational information is transmitted and decisions taken. and often. Schools as agents of change must do more than lip service by embracing fully the new roles which are being charted out. schools . it is clear that our schools are not enabling the realization of the innate potential of our children. Blaming the parents and the society for its inability to make any difference in the lives of children is indication enough of a self – complacency which has compounded our problems. political resistance emanating from interest groups whose main priority is the maintenance of their supposed privileges. The intrinsic drives related to own personality as well as the availability of positive role models within the micro and meso systems also enhance the chances of success. in our belief that education can transform our economy and society. Indeed. • Some individuals succeed against all the odds and despite their families and neighbourhoods.

clubs. While there is a strong case for re-dynamising parental involvement and educating parents as to how they can become facilitators. we must also acknowledge that there is a limit. in today’s economic and social context. The school will necessarily have to take up new roles and develop those socioemotional skills which families and neighbourhoods used to teach. etc must be revived because they do have a crucial role to play but they cannot replace the schools in providing the missing link. .cultural organizations. to what homes and some parents can do. For this to happen. (ii) The micro and meso processes at the level of the family described here belong to a particular setting and time. Buffer institutions like socio.must be empowered to take decisions at diverse levels and become vibrant communities . the school must itself function on community lines on the lines of a Gesellshaft institution not a bureaucratic and contractual one.

Emphasis must be given to training in remedial education. Language teaching must be seriously revisited to integrate innovative pedagogies which based on an approach which seeks to develop generic language skills rather than a particular content. This is of course a short term and radical measure. Poor educational achievement must be addressed by all stakeholders concerned and teachers must be supported in proposing strategies which account for individual differences.9. (iv) Continuous professional development for teachers must be envisaged for all teachers at all levels. The teaching of English must be revitalized as it is the medium of instruction for all other subjects and prevent our children from achieving their full potential in other subjects. Assessment for learning must be construed as central to enhancing the efficiency of our resource use instead of only Assessment of learning. it is suggested that a profile of strengths and difficulties of the child be drawn and used by the teacher to document progress or shortcomings.3 RECOMMENDATIONS Based on the findings of the research it is recommended that: (i) There is a need to revisit assessment procedures in order to enable a more comprehensive measurement of the outcomes of educational achievement in the broadest sense of the term. (v) (vi) Quality Assurance procedures which are both output and processed oriented must be applied at all levels of the educational sector. (vii) Concrete and realistic benchmarks and achievements targets must be set every year and the responsibility equally shared by the school and parents. At entry point. The government must seriously consider the introduction of legal structures compelling parents to be involved on a number of occasions and as and when the achievement or behaviour of their children warrants it. (ii) (iii) The system of automatic promotion must be revisited and even discarded altogether in primary because it compounds the problem of failure. .

Models of success of programmes run by governmental organizations and non governmental organizations must be extended. once for all . language and science to ensure the quality of educational outcomes. need to be encouraged to assume a central stance to issues pertinent to teaching and learning. in the guise of professional bodies. scaffolding and evaluating academic performances has been more than overdue. (x) Parents must be given the skills to guide their children and to communicate with schools and teachers. A bridge must be created whereby the expectations of schools and the conditions for success are conveyed to parents.(viii) A new boost must be given to parental involvement in their children’s education either via the formal channels of the school or via community-based organizations.set it up but also. It is imperative that all agents within and outside the formal system become accountable and take responsibility for educational achievement (xiv) A National Inspectorate as an instrument for monitoring guiding. (xii) Mauritius must participate on a more regular basis in international surveys regarding achievement in key skills at primary level in Maths. (xiii) Lack of both accountability and control perpetuates a wasteful and self defeating system. There is a need to strengthen the community to support parents in the education of the children. It is not only imperative to. (ix) Systemic deficiencies at all schools levels which keep parents at arms length or even exclude them from involvement in academic and socio-scholastic enterprise have to be urgently addressed. (xi) A media campaign and public forums could be organized to support schools’ effort in involving parents. to make it fully functional and effective (xv) There is need for Regional Directorates to produce mandatory reports of overall performances indices and educational achievement trends in the respective zones and take up remedial/corrective measures (xvi) Teacher Associations. Parental education programmes must be intensified. .

(xix) Results breakdown for all schools must be made public and have to be posted in Regional Centres and on respective schools notice boards. (xx) There is need to address the general reading habits or its deficiency in Mauritius.(xvii) Heads of School need to have regular meetings with staff to address broad curriculum development issues to produce better educational achievement scores. The culture of reading need to be packaged and proposed to the Mauritian population at large as a congenial and strategically appropriate instrument to foster greater intellectual development. There is need to see quality rather than misleading percentage rates. (xxi) The assessment of private tuition and its impact on educational achievement needs to be researched to produce a true picture of schools’ efficacy at producing academic-results. into the Teaching and Learning processes. . (xviii) Schools need to produce yearly achievement reports and plough back their own recommendations.