They will go to school on Monday. Some will enter Grade 1, others in Grade 7. A new experience of the education system and in particular of the reform that came into force in 2016. Six years later, what observation? While the Nine-Year Schooling was supposed to bring more fairness and equality, we are not there yet.
Colleges are not on a level playing field
D-1 for these children who will pass the course from primary to secondary. A decisive step in their school career. But it is clear that this was not done without a hitch. Because since the proclamation of the results of the Primary School Achievement Certificate (PSAC), several parents have shown their dissatisfaction with the college assigned to their children.
On the eve of the new school year and in particular the admission to Grade 7, transfer requests continue to flow. Many parents take their troubles patiently, moving heaven and earth to provide the best possible education for their child. The question therefore arises: why this disparity in demand for regional state colleges, Catholic colleges and private colleges?
We note in particular that Catholic colleges are very popular. Clive Anseline, communication manager of the Diocesan Catholic Education Service (SeDEC), gives several reasons for this. In particular an interest of the parents for the culture of the Catholic school, according to the applications for registration.
“The philosophy of Catholic education focuses on the integral development of each child. It’s a program that’s established in our colleges as well as schools,” he says.
He also speaks of a pastoral work, called the school pastoral, “which guides the students spiritually and in their personality, in order to be able to grow in society”. Not to mention the parents who themselves attended a Catholic school and who want their children to experience it today in turn.
For his part, Arvind Bhojun, president of the Union of Private Secondary Education Employees (UPSEE), attributes this widening gap to the rise in the level of competition in colleges since the entry into force of the educational reform. This new system has created more competition, he argues.
“According to our observations, there are disparities at several levels. First, between state colleges, then between state and private colleges, including Catholic colleges. And in this pool of competitiveness, entirely private colleges are entering, because more and more parents are giving preference to them. The demand is growing,” says Arvind Bhojun.
The school program
At the level of Catholic colleges, Clive Anseline believes that the school curriculum, compared to academies, is almost the same. He nevertheless specifies that the Catholic colleges have a particularity, by the emphasis placed on supervision and activities in addition to the academic.
“We rely heavily on human growth, human development. To do this, it is a whole spiritual framework, but also the dispensation of education in affectivity, sexuality as well as interculturality which is entering this year, ”he says.
He believes that these subjects contribute “enormously to the growth and integral development of students”. This, both in terms of personality and ability, creativity, sportsmanship and communication, among others.
Arvind Bhojun agrees with his colleague Clive Anseline on the similarity of the school curriculum, said to be universal, established by the Ministry of Education. The difference, he says, is in the way of teaching, but especially in the level of competition.
“The level of competition between students in different secondary schools is not the same. And with the new system, after each high-stakes exam, parents want to get their kids admitted to a college where there is more competition, pinning their hopes on seeing them become laureates,” he explains. he.
The question is asked: are parents aware that the program offered in a particular college may not be suitable for their children? The president of the UPSEE believes that this is the case for some of them.
“So much so that those who can afford it prefer to enroll their children in fully fee-paying private colleges instead of settling for regional state colleges or state-sponsored private colleges, with a curriculum that promotes holistic education and training of the student. »
As a result, continues Arvind Bhojun, the child benefits from an integral development, whether in his behavior, his way of thinking, his physique, his technical training, his intellectual mind. In short, “the development of his personality”.
Kamini Dowlut, meanwhile, assures that regional state colleges are increasingly adapting to the specific needs of learners in order to better integrate them. “This year, we are pleased to welcome 68 Special Education Needs (SEN) students in secondary school. A special emphasis will be placed on holistic development in order to better integrate them into this new environment, for this new stage of their schooling. This is a first for our state secondary schools and we are adapting, ”she said.
Rector of a state college, she confides that she has prepared with her Grade leaders to support SEN students, whether at the academic level or psychological assistance. “All these facilities are made available to us within the colleges. At the same time, we aim to create an environment of acceptance so that students are respectful of each other, and sensitive to the context and the needs of their classmates,” she adds.
The motivating factors
The school program, the infrastructures and the reputation of the college motivate the choice of the parents, but also of the pupils, who are increasingly informed thanks to the various communication media such as the radio. At least that is the opinion of Clive Anseline.
“As communication managers, we promote our programs and events in our sector on several media platforms as well as on our website. De facto, everyone is informed of what is happening in our colleges. And, in relation to these events, interest is created. It is public relations that makes parents have more confidence in our schools,” he points out.
The President of UPSEE adds additional factors to the list of criteria. According to him, in addition to the school program, the reputation of the college and the infrastructure, the management of the establishment, the performance and the behavior of the pupils attending the college play a decisive role in the choice of the parent.
“Parents tend to research the college background before making their choice. The colleges known to have produced the best elements are de facto privileged, with the hope of admitting their child to an establishment where the crème de la crème evolves with a view to preparing for the National Certificate of Education (NCE) exams and finally, the School Certificate and the Higher School Certificate (HSC)”, he observes.
In this regard, Arvind Bhojun regrets the phenomenon of nepotism at the level of certain private colleges. “Due to the nepotism that plagues private colleges, the lack of qualified people at the head of the management of these establishments is felt. We thus fail miserably to hoist the college upwards or to bring it to its destination. We are struggling to create the level of competition required to be up to it. Finally, students are penalized and parents are discouraged from sending their children to certain private colleges,” he explains.
However, he concedes that some parents tend to choose regional state colleges for their infrastructure. “The regional state colleges’ investment in infrastructure and logistics is much more colossal compared to private schools, even if the government puts money into it. »
He regrets, in the process, that “a handful of private school managers do not see the improvement of infrastructure as a priority”. Result: “Some private colleges struggle to keep their ‘standing’ compared to regional state colleges. »
Some private and Catholic colleges are in high demand, especially because of the discipline that is applied there. “When a private or Catholic college has built a reputation based on maintaining discipline, management sees to it that it is not tarnished. This, by providing the necessary support to the teaching staff to ensure that education is in line with discipline, in order to inspire the confidence of future parents of students and reassure them that their children will be in good hands. , argues Arvind Bhojun.
In the words of the president of the UPSEE, “lately, we have noticed more requests for private and Catholic colleges, because parents have lost confidence in certain state colleges in matters of discipline”.
reputation and accessibility
Kamini Dowlut, an executive member of the Association of State College Rectors and Assistant Rectors, believes that the reputation of colleges is paramount in selection. The accessibility of the establishment is also an aspect taken into account by parents, she adds. “The best located colleges, easily accessible, even by public transit, receive a lot of requests. »
Closing the gap between colleges
How to reduce the disparity between the different colleges on the island? We asked the question to the communication manager of the SeDEC. Clive Anseline emphasizes the importance for all partners in the education sector – teachers, headteachers, parents and strategic players in Catholic education – to work together.
“We must not be discouraged. We must believe in the potential of each and every one of our students. And especially to see what are the factors that trigger the motivation in each learner, because each of them has a talent. you have to push them to succeed in what fulfills them. This is the key to success,” he insists. Thus, for him, “the recipe is to believe in them and trust each student. This is undoubtedly what will increase our success in the future”.
And to add that the contribution of parents is essential in order to achieve this objective. “In recent years, we have seen a split at the family level. the children are disturbed, there is not enough supervision. As a result, there must be work in partnership with the family for them to succeed”, he raises awareness.
For his part, Arvind Bhojun pleads for a political will consistent with a synchronization of education and vision for the country. “In the short term, we can say that we are one of the countries that facilitate access to education. But where is the quality of education? What is our vision of progress in two decades? It is only when this objective is established that we can work towards an education system of which we will be proud and have the desired result in our schools, ”he insists.
When you invest in education, the President of the UPSEE understands, “you have to be patient and wait years before reaping the fruits of your efforts”. He deplores a total vagueness currently. “Hence the imbalances, our inability to adapt and the high dropout rate. We are in a society where young people are sick. »
Kamini Dowlut firmly believes that parental involvement in the supervision of the child to follow up on the continuous work done by the college management can work miracles. “Having worked in colleges considered centers of excellence and those where there are slow learners, I can attest to the fact that when parents work hand in hand with management, it is the student who prospers. Even an average child can succeed with parental support,” she says.