Jackie Wilson Asheeke

I am disgusted at the ridiculous decision to drop the passing average for primary school to 35 percent. It was already obscenely low at 40 percent! I am throwing shade on any ministry of education official that agreed to reduce the passing rate percentage. I am insulted to read officials blaming this outrageous decision on COVID-19. That doesn’t work! Step up and take your tomatoes in the face for this bad decision that hurts our children.

Whether you realize it or not, our children are smarter than you think! The issue around low scores is less to do with grading systems and more to do with poverty, poorly equipped schools, and teachers in crisis. Performance in school is negatively affected by many issues. Kids suffer through unrest at home, not enough food, inner depression and social pressure. Kids are beaten down inside when they do not have uniforms, shoes, warm clothes in the winter and supplies. They are dead tired upon arrival when they must walk long distances to class. Lowering the passing average does not address any of these concerns.

Shame on the ministry of education! Shame on parents who are not in the streets demanding quality education for children! You are allowing the government to teach DOWN to these precious kids, rather than lift them up.

Shall we educate our kids to be school cleaners or fat cake sellers in local markets? These are honourable jobs to be certain, but it is not the LIMIT of what our smart, beautiful children can actually do!

If you demand less, they will do less. If you demand more, they will raise their game and do more. Even with a 30 percent pass rate, there will be those with 29 percent. What will you do, lower it to 29 percent next?

Moving from one grade to another is about expanding on what was learned the year before. It is not about a grade on a report card! It is about LEARNING what has been taught and building on it. The grade measures what that child knows and can show about a subject. If you do not know what was taught in the grade before you cannot survive academically on the next level. The very thought that a child could not understand 70 percent of the material taught and still go forward to a higher level, is absurd.

How can you put a child in a math class where long division is taught if they cannot demonstrate that they understand addition or subtraction? If a child does not know the alphabet, how can you advance them to a class where they must read one book per week? What does that do to the child to come up against things they cannot grasp!

Lowering standards sounds a lot like a tactic used by people who WANT ‘certain’ children to fail. Those making this decision know that the grade 10 and 12 tests, as well as the job market in Namibia, require a certain level of comprehension and skills. So, they lower the bar at the early ages to trick the kids and their families into believing they can make it through. And then WHAM…these kids hit an unmoveable barrier and get crushed. What kind of educational system is that?

These kids need support in school to make the grade, not lower standards. Stop taking the easy way out by changing the rules and do the real work of training young minds to make the level of learning necessary to master skills. Attack the reasons why the kids perform at low levels – that will make the change. Of course, attacking root causes is harder than taking the lazy way out and lowering the bar.

All of our children have in them the seed of greatness. Lowering the bar only buries that seed deeper and starves it of sunlight and water. Let our kids grow to meet the standard; don’t undercut them before they even have a chance. Show them the sky and they’ll shoot for the stars; force their heads down and they will only see dirt.

Here is my wish. Let those who lowered the grade standards receive their vitally needed services from someone who passed through school not competent in 70 percent of the lessons taught. Think about it.