The irony in the errors of our education system

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Here’s the irony of it all. If the Ministry of Education cannot get a simple thing like the exam results correct, how foolish are we to expect students who are part of that education system to flourish? 

This has got to be one of the least talked about points in this ongoing saga with the School Certificate and the Samoa School Leaving Certificate exam results. 

We find it rather difficult to comprehend this mess given the fact that running the education system, which includes dealing with such issues as results, is taking a fair chunk out of the Ministry’s budget. While we don’t have the final figures, it would be safe to say administration costs is a big expense on the Ministry’s budget. 

Despite that being the case, it’s becoming a joke now at the beginning of every year to hear these problems. Indeed, it is nothing new. 

Yes year after year we encounter the same issue. We continue to hear and read horror stories of how exam results have been screwed up over and over. And this year is no different. 

The real pain is that these results matter to these students and their parents. 

Some of them were still queuing up at the Ministry last week well after the school year had started. 

Which is heartbreaking to say the least.

In education, results are vital. It is the stuff that determines the ladder of progress for every individual student in their pursuit of learning. Getting them done correctly therefore is one of the basic tenets of progress.

After all we are talking about the future of these students. We are talking about something that determines their next step in learning.

But there is more to it than that. We are talking about the issue of anxiety and worry that could literally harm people lives. This is the stress the students are placed under. Think of the anxiety on the part of parents who spend endless days worrying about what they are going to do with their children.

Ladies and gentlemen, this simply cannot be viewed as normal. And it definitely cannot be allowed to continue.

The question is; if the Ministry cannot get this simple thing as the results correct, what else are they getting wrong that is not reported? If they cannot accurately measure the progress of students by making sure their marks are correct, how can we trust them with anything else? 

You see they keep talking about education having come in leaps and bounds over the years. How do we know that? When questions are raised about poor performance, some people are quick to say that Rome wasn’t build in a day. Fair enough but how long have they been saying that?

In the not too distant past, we’ve seen so many changes introduced to the education system. Among them is the fact the school hours have become longer. Has anyone sat down to assess if this has had any positive impact on the students’ performances? 

This is among the many tough questions that must be asked if we are to honestly assess the present to prepare the system for the future. 

Needless to say education is so vital to the development aspirations of any nation that we cannot ignore problems and pretend that they will evaporate into thing air. The ongoing problem with the results is one of them.

The only consolation – not that anybody wanted it - is the leadership show by the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio. He did the honourable thing when he apologised to the nation last week. 

You see, when people are outraged and angry, the scriptures tell us that a soft answer always turns away wrath. Which is precisely what happened two weeks ago when the Minister apologised unreservedly in Parliament for the errors of his Ministry.

“The truth is this is not a new issue. It started on 2013 and this issue has been happening over the years. But we are doing our best to solve it,” Loau said.

“I cannot hide in the shadow of the tree or try to make up excuses. The truth is, the Ministry made a mistake. But mistakes can teach us great lessons moving forward. This can help improve our work.”

Okay then Mr. Minister. 

Let’s hope we will not be having the same conversation this time next year.

Have wonderful Wednesday Samoa, God bless!

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