Touria Prayag's Blog

A horror scenario Par Touria Prayag 30 Juillet 2013

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on September 15, 2013

“IT WILL THEN NOT BE A QUESTION OF BEING GIFTED BUT ONE OF BECOMING ‘GIFTED’ OR BEING FORCED INTO THE CATEGORY OF THE ‘GIFTED’.”

 

The minister of education’s announcement, reported in l’express this week, that he would like to set up special schools for the gifted is ill-advised, inappropriate for our society and does not augur well for the children of this country. It is a mistake that no pedagogist should remain insensitive to, least of all condone.

 

One should not be lulled into complacency by the fact that these types of schools exist in other countries. As a matter of fact, where they do exist, there is still a polemic about the means used to test kids to decide who is a quarter of a mark more gifted than others and who is not and how to differentiate between gifted children and those who are merely talented. The arbitrary nature of deciding which pupils are so gifted that they are funnelled into an elite school is still being questioned. And, pedagogically speaking, what exactly makes a child ‘gifted’ anyway? Is the fact that they scored above 90% on some standardised tests

that measure verbal and non-verbal facility enough to decide that they should be able to sustain the pressure of a specialised curriculum? The measure for defi ning giftedness – as any pedagogist knows – is narrow and can be manipulated through test-preparation programmes.

 

But even if these types of schools were working in other countries the way they should be, we should remember that our society is different. There are few other countries where the Certificate of Primary Education results are the subject of extensive cocktail, dinner and family gathering conversations. There are not many countries where seven-year-olds sit in garages and classrooms to be force-fed test papers which would help them secure a seat in a star school. Worse still, some parents have now started a new trend: getting their children to take private tuition with children who are one class above! I’ll leave you to imagine the psychological consequences of that.

 

As if having to compete for star schools at such an early age was not bad enough, now we are offering parents who make of their children’s achievement a question of ego, the possibility to put them under even more pressure to secure seats in the coveted programmes of the ‘gifted’. It will then not be a question of being gifted but one of becoming ‘gifted’ or being forced into the category of the ‘gifted’. And from that point, there is only one step to the institutionalization of special private tuition classes to churn out ‘gifted’ pupils. We will leave our cynicism aside today and not talk about those who will be connected enough to have ‘gifted’ children.

 

If Mr. Bunwaree is serious about improving education, how about looking at those who are not gifted enough and reducing the failure rate. How about just making our schools better for everyone? How about a better infrastructure with cleaner playgrounds and toilets? How about improving the quality of curriculum and instruction for everyone? If some of our kids are too gifted and aren’t academically challenged enough in school, they can have more time to enjoy life and be like everyone else. I hope this idea of segregating them is nipped in the bud. There is enough segregation in our educational system as it is. Let’s not start something we will one day come to regret.

 

weekly@lasentinelle.mu

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