‘Africa producing half-baked graduates’

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Former UZ vice-chancellor Levi Nyagura

Teaching experts have challenged education quality assessment boards in Africa to adopt new strategies that will produce graduates endowed with critical thinking skills and the ability to contribute meaningfully to their respective countries.

By Phyllis Mbanje

Speaking at the 9th conference of the Southern Africa Association for Educational Assessment (SAAEA) held in the capital yesterday, University of Zimbabwe Vice-Chancellor Levi Nyagura said the current crop of school graduates did not have the requisite skills and called on assessment boards like the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (Zimsec) to investigate and come up with new ways of assessing the quality of education.

“The aspect of critical thinking is missing in most of our graduates who cannot even construct a simple, grammatically correct sentence,” he said.

Nyagura said there were deficiencies in the products being produced from the current schools system and called for an overhaul of the quality assurance process.

“So what are we assessing if the education products lack analytical skills? Education can no longer be viewed in a linear manner, but should be tackled as a complex area requiring more research,” he said.

Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora, in a speech read on his behalf by his deputy Paul Mavhima, said the conference should interrogate educational assessment outcomes. He also urged delegates to investigate the extent to which the curriculum and assessment can be aligned to learning outcomes that shape national, regional and global socio-economic goals.

“The economic performance of any nation depends upon its intellectual and human resources capital,” he said.

The minister noted that although many countries have made concerted efforts to increase access to education as prescribed by the Education for All (EFA) policy that was adopted at the Jomtien conference in 1990, there was need to now shift towards improving educational quality.

Also speaking at the same event, SAAEA chairperson Cavin Nyambe, from Namibia, said the association had covered many milestones and now the torch would be handed over to Zimsec to run SAAEA.

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