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Ministry of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology

CPE Examinations

YEAR 2011
CPE – CURRICULUM (22/03/11)
(No. B/26) Mr S. Obeegadoo (Third Member for Curepipe & Midlands) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources whether, in regard to the Certificate of Primary Education, he will state if, in view of the failure rate over the years, Government proposes to review the appropriateness of the examination and related curriculum to ensure that all children acquire the essential basic knowledge and competencies.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the question is speaking about CPE failure rate, and I would like first of all to start by informing the House that, over the past few years, the rate of failure for the CPE Examination has been gradually on the decline. Prior to 2005, particularly in 2004, the failure rate was 37%. In 2004, the pass rate was 63%, and it gradually increased to reach 68.5% in 2010 and, consequently, the failure rate was brought down from 37% in 2004 to 31.5%, that is, a reduction of 5.5% within the 5-6 past years. Nonetheless, efforts are being stepped up to further improve the performance at CPE level.
One of the concerns of my Ministry is to set the right structure for the CPE Examination, to ensure that all children acquire the essential Basic Knowledge and Competencies to enable them pursue secondary education.
The present format of the paper caters for the acquisition of essential Basic Knowledge and Competencies covered in Section A of all papers of the CPE syllabus. Since this examination serves the double purpose of certification and admission to secondary schools, the paper caters also for average and above average pupils through section B of the papers, which tests higher order competencies and skills.
The CPE, as we all know, in its current form, encourages rote learning and teaching to the text rather than focusing on the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills.
It is precisely for this reason that my Ministry is, in fact, working towards a review of the CPE and the improvement of the performance at CPE. In this context, I have appointed, since January 2011, that is, early this year, a Committee comprising representatives of my Ministry, Mauritius Examinations Syndicate and the Mauritius Institute of Education to work on the overall review of the CPE and related curriculum, so that children who have acquired the basic knowledge and competencies could attempt Section A of the Question Paper with success, and thus have the required foundation on which their secondary schooling could be based.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the problem of failures cannot be addressed by exclusively reviewing the CPE. In parallel with the above initiative, my Ministry has also embarked on a number of pedagogical programmes that would help in the early identification of learning difficulties, and thus provide more appropriate support that would facilitate the children’s mastery of the required competencies. These measures are being implemented from an early stage of primary schooling, so as to overcome the learning deficits that otherwise tend to accumulate. These measures include, inter alia, diagnostic assessment, continuous assessment and remedial education, as well as special remedial programmes for CPE repeaters. In addition, particular attention is being given to the ZEP schools for improvement of their performance.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I wish to reassure the House and especially the hon. Member, that in the context of this review exercise that has far-reaching implications, I intend to engage into wide consultations at national level with all stakeholders who would be invited to submit their proposals and inputs.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the hon. Minister seems to have missed the point of this question. Being given that the point of basic primary education today is not just about going on to secondary education, but about equipping all children with the skills for employment and for life, being given that whatever the government, the pass rate stagnates below 70% and one out of four children leaves primary school every year without the CPE, is his government committed to an overhaul of our examination system and a redefinition of primary or basic education for every child of this country?
Dr. Bunwaree: I agree with the hon. Member, but where I disagree with him is that, at the CPE, we do not go to work. The child has got to continue schooling; la scolarisation est obligatoire jusqu’à seize ans. So, the child will have to go through secondary schooling, whether it is vocational or normal stream. We are agreeing on that, but I started my reply by saying that we have to forget what the hon. Member is trying to instil in the minds of people.
The CPE pass rate is progressing year after year and, therefore, I would like to lay this graph on the Table of the Assembly. In fact, the down-going slope is when the hon. Member was Minister and the up-going slope is on the other side. Regardez ça, c’est parlant. We are doing well.
The Deputy Speaker: It is being circulated.
Dr. Bunwaree: The dip is in 2004.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, let us forget the dip, let us forget party politics.
Being given that at this rate of progress, it will require 35 years before we reach a 100% success rate, which is the objective of education, has Government discussed the proposal of the Opposition to lay party politics aside and to sit down together, to redefine, to agree and to forge a broad consensus across political dividing lines on basic education that all children need to obtain and to succeed in obtaining?
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I said that I am opening after our committee has worked on it. This will take a few weeks. Then, I will open a forum where all stakeholders will be invited, including the hon. Member. But saying that it will take 20 years, if he were there it would have taken one century.
Mrs Labelle: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I think I heard the hon. Minister mentioning, among measures to support and help the child and so on to master the basic education, a special remedial education. May I ask him if this is currently in place and, if so, when? At what time and by whom this special remedial education is being provided in our school?
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, this is an interesting question. In fact, we do not have enough manpower to do what we would have wished to do, but it is started, especially the special one is for CPE repeaters; this is what I have said. We have noticed that the CPE repeaters do not master, for example, the programme of Standard III and, of course, less for Standard IV. If we start them repeating only Standard VI, they will definitely go straight to failure. All this is being taken care of and special remedial education has started this year. I will be very eager to see the results at the end of the year.
Mr Bhagwan: The hon. Minister has just stated that the pass rate is on the progress. My worry is about the Cité Barkly, Marcel Gabon Government School, where the results have been on the decrease since 2005. It is going downwards year by year. I have asked questions and raised the matter with the hon. Minister who has initiated actions. Can the hon. Minister inform the House where matters stand concerning the follow-up? My problem is the follow-up at the level of the Ministry. I not only have the impression, but I am sure there are problems at the level of the Ministry, at the level of the administrative zone with regard to the follow-up actions initiated to have further progress and better results in that school, which is one of the poorest regions of Mauritius, if I may say.
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, the hon. Member has talked to me about that problem on quite a few occasions and he knows that we are doing our level best. The problem is more about a problem of the community around the school than in the school itself. So, we are taking care of all these.
I have a special eye on this school, he knows that. We hope that things will get better.
Mr Bhagwan: Can I appeal to the hon. Minister? When the hon. Minister says the community, it is on both sides. I know this is the responsibility of parents, but it is also of the attitudes of teachers, head teacher and officers of the Ministry - Cité Barkly is a region, bann dimoune mauvais, etc. It is not good to say so. My colleagues and I have even talked to the parents. Can I appeal to the Minister to have a meeting chaired by him, not by his officers, with the parties concerned to give clear directives, that there is monitoring, then, we, in Parliament, will be asking questions in the months to come?
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
Mrs Labelle: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the hon. Minister also mentioned early diagnosis.
I would like to know from the hon. Minister if, at present, after Standard III, when a child does not know how to write and read if there is any structure which will take care of this child, because the hon. Minister said that we do not have enough structures? I am just asking: do we have any structure which takes care of such a child? We know that there are many children.
Allow me, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, to also mention two schools in my Constituency: Allée Brillant Government School and Espitalier Noël Government School. The results have been going down year after year. There is a big dip in both schools.
Dr. Bunwaree: As I said, I would have personally wished to have special teachers for remedial action. In some cases we do have. We are trying to do this with regard to the schools which the hon. Member has just mentioned, but we do not have enough structures. There is the enhancement programme which is one way of getting these children out of this problem. This year we have started the enhancement programme and on top of Std IV we are starting at Std III, where we are doing our best to try to get these children on the right side.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to know from the hon. Minister if there are specific schools that have been highlighted for those special remedial education classes?
Dr. Bunwaree: Not specific schools, but we are trying to find specific solutions for specific schools.
Mr Obeegadoo: Let me ask the hon. Minister a straight question in the hope of getting a straight answer. Is it Government’s intention that the National Form III examination should replace the CPE - this is the subject matter of the question -as a pass or fail examination?
Dr. Bunwaree: We are not talking about the Form III assessment programme. For the time being it is an assessment, it is not even an examination. Let’s wait; when we come to the bridge we will cross it.
CPE – TEXTBOOKS (17/05/11)
(No. B/356) Mrs L. Ribot (Third Member for Stanley & Rose Hill) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources whether in regard to the Part 2 of the Certificate of Primary Education books in all subjects, he will state the reasons of the delay with which they have been made available to the schools.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Speaker Sir, in line with the National Curriculum Framework for the Primary Sub Sector, my Ministry, in collaboration with the Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE), has embarked upon the production of new textbooks for Stds I to VI since 2007. This cycle has been completed this year with the production of new Std VI textbooks.
Furthermore, in 2009, my Ministry, out of concern for the health and general well-being of children, decided to split those new textbooks which were bulky into two parts and thus reduce the weight of the school bags. This measure also allowed teachers to make their pupils learn at an appropriate and sound pedagogical pace throughout the year.
The textbooks for ten out of the sixteen subjects taught at the CPE were accordingly produced in two parts. With respect to these sixteen subjects, all the Part I textbooks together with the textbooks in single volumes have been delivered to schools before the resumption of studies in January 2011.
With regard to the ten Part II textbooks for the CPE, I am informed that -
(i) Textbooks for Maths, Science, Arabic, Tamil and Urdu have already been delivered to schools;
(ii) Textbooks for English, Hindi, Marathi and Telugu are being received this week and will be delivered to schools by the end of the week, and
(iii) Textbooks for French will be received early next week and distributed to schools by the end of next week.
With this delivery schedule, Mr Speaker Sir, all the pupils of CPE will have their Part II textbooks by the end of next week.
I am informed by the MIE that the organisation of the learning materials into Parts I & II for the ten subjects has been effected in such a manner as to cater for the health, well-being and pedagogical considerations. Such a design is meant to discourage the practice of cramming the entire syllabus within a period of six months, and the devotion of the third term to an ad nauseam repetition and ultimate rote memorisation.
In line with this pedagogical imperative, the first Parts of the textbooks are expected to be covered by the month of June at the earliest.
Mr Speaker, Sir, given this perspective and time line I have mentioned, the question of delay does not arise.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Speaker, Sir, I would like to know from the hon. Minister whether there is any change in the CPE curriculum.
Dr. Bunwaree: Not to my knowledge, I have to check if ever there have been minor changes, but not to my knowledge.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Speaker, Sir, whereas it is most welcomed that the books be split into two parts so as not to be a burden to the students, it is inacceptable that we are in the month of May, the exams are place part in October, there are schools that have already ended Book 1 since the end of term one and which have not received the Part II yet.
Dr. Bunwaree: I am afraid that the hon. Member has not understood at all what I have mentioned.
Mr Speaker: The hon. Minister has explained in his reply.
Dr. Bunwaree: I will advise her to read my reply and then to come back.
Mr Speaker: Next question!
(No. B/981) Mr R. Uteem (Second Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources whether, in regard to the Arabic Paper of the recent Certificate of Primary Education examinations, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate, information as to if it has received representations complaining about the standard thereof and about mistakes therein and, if so, indicate the steps taken in relation thereto.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, yes, I am informed by the MES that it has received representations from a few organisations and some parents with regard to the Arabic paper of the CPE Exams 2011 related mainly to the level of the question paper, the reading passages, vocabulary used and the essay topic.
However, I wish to point out that, according to the MES, no mistake has been reported in the Arabic question paper, but there were a few new words utilised. Following receipt of the complaints, the MES investigated into the matter. Furthermore, a sampling exercise was carried out prior to the marking exercise, involving some 600 scripts, to look at the performance of candidates. A range of responses to the different questions were compiled and analysed to identify areas of difficulty, and the marking scheme was adjusted to take into account any
difficulty encountered.
However, it has been found that the new words did not cause any unexpected consequence on the performance of candidates. MES has also informed that it has taken appropriate measures, so as not to penalise any candidates and to ensure fairness to all candidates. It has further reported that the Arabic paper has respected the norms designed, and the overall standard of the paper is within the level of the CPE pupils. In fact, 71.08% of the candidates have passed the examination in the subject this year; a performance which is comparable to that of previous years.
Mr Uteem: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I heard the hon. Minister saying that there was no mistake in the paper. But, according to my information, and a copy of the letter which I have received, which was sent to the MES, it is stated clearly that at least one question - part v of the question - could not be answered since an important piece of information was missing from the passage unlike a similar question in the Urdu, Hindi and other CPE Oriental languages where that sentence was there. For the Arabic paper, there was one sentence missing and, therefore, students were not able to answer that question.
Dr. Bunwaree: I am not aware of the particular point raised by the hon. Member. I would like to have a copy if this letter. I have been told that all precautions and all steps were taken, so that no child be penalised.
Mr Uteem: The Arabic paper was the one but last paper; there was a paper the next morning, which is the Mathematics paper. Has the MES looked into whether the distress that students sitting for the Arabic paper have suffered was carried forward and affected their performance in the Mathematics paper?
Dr. Bunwaree: I don’t think this has been done, but the results are known today and the percentage of passes reflects the fact that there could not have been any penalisation.
Mr Fakeemeeah: Can the hon. Minister state to the House whether the MES has officially come forward with a standardised form of designing and setting the CPE Arabic paper as well as for other Oriental languages for this year specifically?
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, and I think it is a good thing.
Mr Uteem: On the same issue of standardisation, being given that the papers are being standardised, could the hon. Minister confirm whether all textbooks also are being standardised?
Because I understand that this is not the case at the moment.
Dr. Bunwaree: The syllabus is standardised, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
Mr Fakeemeeah: Although the hon. Minister has confirmed here, yet, according to my information, there are potential differences in the setting of the Arabic paper of this year as compared to other Oriental languages. I would like to ask the hon. Minister whether il va ouvrir une enquête indépendante et situer les responsabilités et, par conséquent, prendre des actions, so that next year such crime is not committed to our students?
Dr. Bunwaree: I won’t go into what has been mentioned by the hon. Member as a crime, but I must say that the Director of the MES did receive, I think, all those people who made complaints, discussed with them, and there was satisfaction at the end of the meeting. But still, I will take into consideration the point that has been raised.
Mr Fakeemeeah: But, is the hon. Minister aware that the result, just published this morning, reflects the prejudices and the trauma caused to the students who took part in the Arabic language examination of this year?
Dr. Bunwaree: I said it was the contrary, but if the hon. Member can substantiate, he can come and see me.
(No. B/262) Mr D. Ramful (Third Member for Mahebourg & Plaine Magnien) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research whether, in regard to the Certificate of Primary Education Examinations, she will state if there exists any policy that would allow the students currently in standard V to take part therein and, if so, indicate the criteria applicable therefor.
Reply: In the current educational system, the Certificate of Primary Education
Examinations is normally taken at the end of six complete years of primary schooling, from Standard I to VI. This is clearly provided for in Regulation 14(1) of the Education Regulations which reads as follows -
“Except in the case of a pupil who repeats any class under regulation
11(1), the full course of study in a Government or aided primary school shall cover 6 complete school years, from Std I to VI inclusive, at the end of which the pupil may sit for the CPE examination.”
Although the above Regulation makes mention of Government and aided primary
schools, the same principle is to be adopted normally in private fee-paying primary schools, which follow the same curriculum as the government and aided schools.
There is, as such, no broad and overarching policy that would allow pupils currently in Standard V to take part in the CPE examination.
Allow me to remind the House that 2016 is the last year of the CPE as a national endof-cycle examination. With the introduction of the Nine Year Continuous Basic Education and the Primary School Achievement Certificate Assessment (PSAC) as from next year, admission to Grade 7 will be solely on a regional basis.
The ‘engouement’ or the craze of some parents for their children to enter into the existing National Colleges may well motivate them to seek grade acceleration and thus make a case for their children to sit for CPE this last year.
I have been informed that one private school has even set up of special classes to
coach Standard V pupils for CPE examinations this year.
However, allowing this to take place across the board will certainly do more harm
than good to the children. We are all aware of the excessive competition generated by the CPE: none of us would wish to see our children further overstretched at an early age.
There are levels of complexities to be hierarchically mastered in the learning process and it is never recommended for young learners to rush the fences, to “brûler les étapes”.
If at all some pupils are ever to be allowed to seek grade acceleration to take part in the CPE exams, it will only be after careful scrutiny, or on a case to case basis upon provision of full justification.
(No. B/778) Mr O. Mahomed (Third Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research whether, in regard to the Certificate of Primary Education Examinations, she will state the number of private candidates registered to take part therein in 2016, indicating the number thereof who had taken part therein in 2013, 2014 and 2015, respectively.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, private candidates wishing to sit for CPE examinations have to normally register directly at the MES.
I am advised that for the year 2016 and as at 18 July 2016, the number stands at 463.
Madam Speaker, I am tabling the information obtained from the MES on the number of private candidates who sat for CPE Examinations in respect of years 2013 to 2015.
Mr Mahomed: Out of these numbers, may we know from the hon. Minister how many of them are from Standard V wanting to sit for the exam beforehand?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, the private candidates are normally students above the age of 13 and who would wish to enroll for the exams, but we rarely have cases of students in registered primary schools wishing to take Standard VI, but we do have the numbers and I will give you the number. We rarely have these, but I will give you the numbers that have requested to sit for the examination in the earlier years. I have here from the MES a batch of students from a private fee paying school requesting to be allowed to sit for the examination. But, according to Regulation 18.3 of the Education Act, the Director of the MES can, upon her discretion, exceptionally allow students to sit for examinations. We have had a number of requests at the MES, but the MES is scrutinising these requests and trying to find out whether there is, in fact, a reason for students to be allowed to sit for Standard VI. We have to note, Madam Speaker, that we are in the last year of the CPE Examinations and there is this year a certain craze on behalf of parents to get their children to sit for the examinations.
But, as I have said earlier, there are certain hierarchical, pedagogical issues that we have to consider and we have to consider whether it would be right to allow students coming out of Standard IV or out of Standard V sitting for examinations meant for CPE students.
Madam Speaker: Next question, hon. Osman Mahomed!
(No. B/82) Mrs A. Perraud (First Member for Port Louis North & Montagne Longue) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research whether, following the poor performance of the pupils of the Agalega Island who participated in the 2016 Certificate Primary Education Examinations, she will state if the matter has been looked into and measures taken in relation thereto and, if so, give details thereof.
(No. B/160) Mrs A. Perraud (First Member for Port Louis North & Montagne Longue) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research whether, following the poor performance of the pupils of the Agalega Island who participated in the 2016 Certificate Primary Education Examinations, she will state if the matter has been looked into and measures taken in relation thereto and, if so, give details thereof.
(No. B/415) Mrs A. Perraud (First Member for Port Louis North & Montagne
Longue) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research whether, following the poor performance of the pupils of the Agalega Island who participated in the 2016 Certificate of Primary Education Examinations, she will state if the matter has been looked into and measures taken in relation thereto and, if so, give details thereof.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, the performance levels of pupils of
Agalega taking part in the Certificate of Primary Education Examinations has been relatively low over the years.
With regard to the performance of pupils of Agalega, who have participated in the
2016 CPE Examinations, the pass rate stood at 40%. This figure, although still low, shows a slight improvement as the pass rate was much lower over the past years.
The slight improvement in performance has been due to a number of actions taken by the Ministry with regards mainly to pedagogy and staffing. For year 2017, the Ministry has posted one additional teaching Deputy Head Master and four Educators to the primary schools.
However, efforts should be sustained for a marked improvement of same through
reinforcement of the teaching and learning process.
Moreover, expression of interest would be called for teachers to conduct remedial
education in the island.
In order to monitor the teaching and learning process, regular visits are conducted to Agalega by School Inspectors. In this context, apart from the visit in March 2017, there has been a technical and pedagogical team from the Ministry comprising School Inspectors, representatives of the MES and MIE who have proceeded to Agalega on 12 June this year with a view to assessing the situation and making recommendations for remedial measures to be taken and to look into ways and means to improve teaching and learning.
Further, Madam Speaker, in order to enhance performance of students on the island, we are envisaging upgrading of school infrastructure and reinforcement of capacity building as well as community mobilisation.
Furthermore, in line with the Nine-Year Schooling reforms, the Early Support
Programme which caters for pupils with learning difficulties, the Holistic Education Programme and the Social and Emotional well-being Programme are being implemented.
Mrs Perraud: Madam Speaker, in the interest of everybody teachers, students,
education and teaching will the Minister envisage to review the contract of teachers working in Agalega, I mean, giving incentives to teachers so that they are willing to go and work in Agalega and stay in Agalega long enough so that learning takes place?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, this year we have sent a new team and a new set of teachers has been there and they seem to be happy there and I hope that they will continue with their teaching in the island.
Mrs Perraud: Je voudrais aussi demander à la ministre si l’éducation dispensée à
Agalega prend en compte la spécificité de l’île, des enfants Agaléens. Nous savons tous que l’isolement géographique de l’île Agalega, la réalité est totalement différente de la réalité à Maurice.
Madam Speaker : Put your question !
Mrs Perraud : Donc, si dans l’éducation qui est dispensée, on prend en compte la
spécificité ?
Madam Speaker: Okay!
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Certainement, Madame la présidente. Tout cela se fait
dans le contexte de la réforme et nous allons nous assurer à ce que les enfants reçoivent une éducation adéquate et prenant en considération leur environnement.
Mr Baloomoody: Can I ask the hon. Minister in this year’s Audit Report, the Audit
made severe remarks with regard to the distribution of books to the Agalean students, can I know from the hon. Minister whether action has been taken to ensure that the same mistake does not repeat itself for this academic year and the future years?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: It is a fact, Madam Speaker, that there was a delay in the submission of books in Agalega due to bad weather conditions and the poor connection that we have with Agalega in terms of ships, etc. But we are taking care of this.
Madam Speaker: Next question, hon. Mrs Perraud!