Abolish the mass promotion of learners in our primary, junior and senior high schools

Akufo Addojhs 696x409 1 Min 1 1 696x375.png Junior high schools student

Thu, 17 Sep 2020 Source: Adam Mutaka

Mass Promotion is the policy of promoting students to the next grade level despite of having poor achievement at their current grade level.

(Encyclopaedia, 2017). The system is sometimes called Social Promotion or Default Promotion, and so on.

The proponents of the mass promotion policy argue that, the policy allows for a steady progress of students up the class ladder. They opine that, the constant progress of the student from class to class in such a seamless manner is a strong motivation which keep a lot of "grown" but dull students in schools.

They suppose also that, the mass promotion or default promotion policy serves as a delicious sauce of satisfaction for parents and guardians; as they watch their wards progress steadily in school. They mention also that, the stress level of students is greatly reduced as they know that they cannot be demoted by any means available to the school authorities.

And as the saying goes, that calmer seas do not make skillful sailors. Not all beneficiaries of the mass promotion system get fully baked in the educational oven. There are a lot of students who only succeed in passing through the school, but the school fails to pass through them. The opening of floodgates which the mass promotion system comes with, has given us a nearly garbage- in- garbage- out output of students in our schools.

One mockery we make ourselves in respect of the promotion of our students in school is that, we conduct examinations for them. After the examination, all those who have failed are promoted regardless of their poor academic performance. That is a mockery because the object of examination is to evaluate the student's performance and the effectiveness of the school curriculum. So that, those who pass can progress to the next grade level, whilst those who fail can be taken through remedial fortifications to get them ready for the next grade level.

The mass promotion system has seriously deteriorated the quality of education in the country. Its effects are as dangerous as Medusa of ancient Greece. Let us have a look at some of them. But I can assure you that, we will not turn into stone.

The social promotion or default promotion system has brought an ardent spirit of indiscipline which almost all students are possessed with. It is not uncommon to see students busily talking to each whilst lessons are in session. They do not see the need to pay attention in class in order to grasp what the teacher teaches, after all their progress to the next class cannot be hampered by any means of student evaluation. Sometimes they laugh among themselves without any relevant stimuli.

I think they see the teacher as a comic figure whose techniques in lesson delivery qualifies him or her to be clown. I think they whisper to themselves, "Why waste our time to listen to him when the results of his test can do us no harm?" Much of the student indiscipline is felt at the Senior High Schools.

Not too long ago, four students who were believed to be final year students of a particular SHS, put on red paraphernalia and congregated to do the unthinkable. Their action smacked of gross disrespect to the highest office of this country.

We also heard of how some disgruntled candidates of the 2020 WASSCE went on rampage and resorted to destruction of school properties and so on. Their beef was that, their invigilators were strict and the questions they met in the examination halls were unexpected and too tough. There was also a report about students who allegedly assaulted an external invigilator and a reporter Daily Graphic.

The gravity of these misdemeanors compelled GES to investigate the matters and fourteen (14) final year students were found culpable. So GES cracked their backs with whips of sanctions. Grievous amongst the sanctions was that, the affected students were dismissed and effectively debarred from continuing their examinations.

I understand MOE and GES were prevailed upon by Ghana's premiere office, to allow the dismissed students to continue writing their papers. All these unfathomable behaviours were put up by the students because they were not properly prepared for the exams. And they knew that if they failed, it could mean the end of the road for a good number of them. Students consider WASSCE as the ultimate barrier. So their desire to cross it is great.

The most interesting part of that issue is that, those rioting students were the pioneers of the Free SHS programme. Students who were fully sponsored by the Ghanaian taxpayer. I wonder why they could not honour the adage, "To whom much is given, much is expected."

One other ill effect of the mass promotion system is that, it creates a sense of false accomplishment in the minds of teachers, students, parents and guardians. When a students are promoted to the next level, the teacher in the previous class feels that he or she has done his or her work in respect of preparing the students.

All the students also feel that they are in a new class because they have finished the previous class. Parents and guardians also have the same positive feelings about their wards' progress in school. Yet, the fact is, majority of the promoted students just follow the bandwagon; unfit for the current class. They are merely square pegs in round holes.

Mass promotion also lowers the quality of education in our schools. Students no longer have the enthusiasm to learn in order to escape the disgrace and discomfort that comes with retention in a particular class. Students in the past, were intrinsically motivated to uphold their honour by not getting themselves repeated in a particular class. This motivation spurs them on to work hard and achieve greatness. But since the desire is absent, it cannot fire.

Another serious disadvantage of mass promotion is that, it produces a weak human resource base. The future of every country rest in its human resource. It is so, because it is the human resource which manipulate the other available resources to develop the country and its people. But a situation where the human resource is functionally handicapped, what would you expect? Your guess is as good as mine. A poorly trained workforce will inevitably produce a poor output.

To conclude, I would like to appeal to GES to squash this current mass promotion policy and replace it with the merit system so that students will now be promoted based on the records of their performance.

Columnist: Adam Mutaka
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