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The Decline of Education in State schools in Mauritius

– Some students tend to commit suicide after receiving their SC or HSC results…This happens because of the harsh and disorganised education system

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What is education?

Education, in a formal description in the Mauritian context, would be explained and understood as a process where learning by heart (rote learning), working hard in schools and tuitions to excel in academic exams are the parameters.

However, it happens that when students fail in doing so, they are taxed as lazy bones or even good-for-nothing. Following these demoralising and demotivating comments by teachers, parents and other institutions, youngsters start to question their own abilities, as since a small child they have been taught that they should only excel in their paperwork, or else they would need to face those hurtful comments lifelong. « Literacy is no education. Literacy is not the end of education or even the beginning. By education I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in the child and man-body, mind and spirit. »- Mahatma Gandhi.

It has been made evident now, that in the past few years some students tend to commit suicide after receiving their SC or HSC results either because they have not been able to score the 5 credits set up by the government or they have not been laureates. This happens because of the harsh and disorganised education system in Mauritius. Nevertheless, parents are partly to be blamed for the drastic steps taken by their kids. They keep quiet and are always trying to adjust to whatever systems are being set up by the government, concerning the education of their children. Always pushing and pressing harder on the children, sacrificing their weekend and sending them at private tutors’ only because the schools are not providing a proper environment and way of teaching. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”-Nelson Mandela. However, educated people should be able to use it for the betterment of society and not for personal benefits.

Parents must open their eyes and be vigilant

It is high time for parents to open their eyes and start to militate for real change for the future generations. It’s been years since the world of education has been tarnished by irresponsible adults hiding behind this big word and making their own profit out of such resources as PTA funds instead of investing them in facilities to enhance the school environment and the welfare of the school population. For how long should youngsters suffer from this penury of sound, sane and honest vision?  Teachers are being unmotivated and demoted for various reasons, students are feeling at a loss. Bullying from teachers and students is a cruel reality in some schools. Maybe unknowingly or still knowingly and on purpose, the nine-year schooling is creating division among young kids, making young people believe that they should be better than others. Creating forceful competitions among little kids is not the way out. Is this the kind of society would we wish to have soon? ‘’The best brains of the nation may be found on the last benches of the classroom.’’- Sir Abdul Kalam. Hopefully, with time, all students will receive the same education and none of them would be neglected for any reason whatsoever.

Sadly, even those who go to academies are still facing lots of struggles to cope with their studies. They are still needing to rush for tuitions, after school hours and not having time for extra-curricular activities which are essential during the growth of a child at teenage. This is indeed a harsh education system, where the choice of subjects is limited and some unprofessional people in schools, be it teaching or non-teaching staffs, exert nefarious influences. These can have bad consequences on the psychological health of young people who are moving, without proper guidance, through the different levels of their adolescence. During the past two years, when the Covid-19 had hit Mauritius, SC and HSC students had done well in the Cambridge exams. Was it because of children have worked tiringly on their own with the help of their tutors’? or was there some unrevealed reasons behind this nearly 100 percent success? But it is said that “Cambridge never errs.” However, the present system of education requires a thorough rethinking. “The mind is crammed with facts before it knows how to think.”Swami Vivekananda.

What if education has another meaning?

Education is not learning by heart and excelling in exams. These are only a small part of the process. Firstly, education starts at home where parents teach their children basic norms and values of society. They should be taught to stand on their own and occupy the ground whenever there is the need. Schools should be equipped with proper infrastructure and well-trained staff for the well-being of students. New activities should be introduced such a swimming, yoga, drama, and others.

The choice of subjects should be broad, and all schools must have a professional career counsellor. Schools should be places where students enjoy themselves in learning new things every day and instil a sense of curiousness for them to want to know more. And why not with time, government schools might also start doing the baccalaureate program?

What about the de-schooling society?

Obviously we cannot deny the blatant fact that school candidates at the upper secondary has performed extremely well at the School Certificate and the Higher School Certificate exams when the Covid-19 pandemic compelled the students to follow courses online. Both teachers and students were motivated in the preparatory stages and the revision for these forthcoming exams, and all the efforts paid. John Holt’s de-schooling society never fared so well during that period. This is evidence enough that online coaching can be effective and, given the proper guidance, the students can learn as much, if not better, in this setting as they are spared the class trauma and evolve in a more relaxed environment.

However, we must beware of misinterpretation when referring to the de-schooling society. We gather from John Holt’s ‘From Freedom and Beyond’ that a de-schooled society is one in which everyone shall have the widest and freest possible choice to learn whatever he wants to learn, whether in school or in some altogether different way. This meets Sadhguru’s commendation on education,’’ Education is not about moulding children the way you think they should be. Education is about organizing the natural longing in a human being to know.’’

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