A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: One Laptop Per Child is apparently working with Peruvian children
Previous entry: David Thompson on the obligation to mingle
Saturday December 29 2007

News from South Africa: Schools and teachers need a lot more jacking up.  Here in the UK, everyone is doing better, according to the exam results.  In South Africa, they appear not to have mastered the trick of proving that everything is getting better even though it’s not.

So, my long distance guess is: in South Africa, they very possibly have a distinctly non-corrupt and quite informative examination system, which actually tells them which pupils are half reasonable and which ones are getting nowhere.

Under apartheid, the South Africans had racially segregated exams. That is, there were separate exam boards which produced different exams for whites, blacks, Indians, and coloured. The “Indian” exams were famously difficult - much more so than than the “white” exams, and a good pass at the Indian exams was seriously well regarded. I have no idea how this has evolved into the exam system(s) they now have, but it might have something to do with it if exams have remained high quality through competition between boards.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 30 December 2007

Interesting.  Maybe one of my regular personal blog commenters, “6000”, can throw some light on this.  He lives in South Africa.  Although, he may need to have his attention drawn to this posting, on account of me and Michael being the only people who read this blog as yet.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 30 December 2007

For a long time, SA did indeed have a very good exam system, essentially inherited from former days.

There have been big shake-ups in the university system in recent years, with institutions amalgamating and even a few closing, stranding students mid-course. This is part of a wider series of changes that are politically and socially driven. Part of this is an increasing role for vocational education, with former technikons renamed as “universities of technology”. Another part is an increase in state control, external monitoring and standardization similar to the systems introduced to the UK in recent years.

At school level, SA has introduced a system of “focus” schools which mirrors the wretched “specialist schools” scheme so beloved of Nu-Labour.

Money is also being poured into schools in black areas, with particularly strong technological investment, justified on the grounds that these schools were neglected under apartheid. There is strong emphasis on education as a social engineering tool and on strategies to counter the under-representation of black people in the universities.

There is a private secondary sector, but it is still effectively subordinate to the state.

It remains to be seen what will be left when the dust settles. My feeling is that we have seen both this train of events and its consequences before.

Posted by John Kersey on 30 December 2007

That is very interesting Michael. What is the point of racially segregating the types and styles of tests that are given?

Posted by Tony on 09 November 2010
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