LESOTHO’S education system is in dire need of reform if it is to meet the country’s needs for the 21st century.
Education Minister ‘Mamphono Khaketla has made similar calls in the past.
The need to review and restructure the education system should go beyond merely replacing the current ineffectual Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (COSC) with the O-Level curriculum.
Doing so would be like trying to change a pair of spectacles by merely altering the colour of the frame while wearing the same old lens.
We must modify the entire system if we are to move ahead as a country.
The current COSC has run its course following its introduction in 1961.
For the first nine years the pass rate hovered between 60 and 70 percent. In 2009, the pass rate had slumped to 42.5 percent.
I recently attended a workshop convened by the Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) on education with the theme: The end of COSC?
Among the key speakers at the workshop was Dr Teboho Motaboli who is among the people pushing for an alternative syllabus to the current COSC.
Dr Motaboli was sharing the platform with Dr Lits’abako Ntoi, a registrar at the Examination Council of Lesotho (ECOL).
From the discussions it emerged that the University of Cambridge had around 1985/7 persuaded without luck the government of Lesotho to switch over from COSC to Cambridge’s International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE).
The proposal was turned down with issues such as access, relevance and quality being brought up to forestall the transition.
Interestingly countries that were close to Lesotho at that time in terms of education systems — Botswana and Swaziland — disbanded their own systems and adopted or fused their education systems with the Cambridge proposals.
There were also concerns from participants over why our national curriculum did not progress on to Advanced Level after COSC.
Officials at the workshop failed to provide clear answers to these genuine questions.
I also note that a document produced last year titled “Curriculum and Assessment Policy Framework” to pave way for the proposed new system does not specifically pin-point the system that is to be implemented.
Officials at the workshop failed to provide clear answers on the new system that is being proposed.
All we hear are rumours on the proposed changes.
We hear that the education ministry intends to phase out some COSC subjects to make way for the IGCSEs.
Under the new programme students could be asked to pay as much as M4 000 in examination fees for them to be able to write eight subjects.
I agree with the need to reform our education system.
However, I think the issue of coming up with a new curriculum should come from national discussions and debates across the country.
These issues need to be debated exhaustively within the public domain.
The views gathered from the people in the 1960s at pitsos (public meetings) that were used to formulate the present curriculum are now obsolete.
Those views cannot in this day and age be applied to deal with our current challenges and improve the livelihoods of learners.
I agree fully with Dr Khaketla when she notes in her book: “Though issues of quality, relevance and equity have been central to education policy since independence, their interpretation has been left to individual education practitioners with no clearly articulated and comprehensive guidelines.”
I think it is important that players in the education sector keep their noses to the grindstone to free our education system from the current inadequacies.
They must ensure that our education system is geared to deal effectively with our modern challenges.
This country deserves a better education system.