60% of students admitted to Grade 1 do not make it to HSC: what solutions to this observation? This was the question addressed in the program “Au Cœur de l’Info” on Wednesday April 3 on Radio Plus.

10,799 students out of 18,327 in the 2010 cohort left the education system, according to figures from Statistic Mauritius. This represents 60% of those admitted to Std 1 at the time and who were unable to progress to HSC. To debate this subject and find solutions to this observation, journalists Jane Lutchmaya and Anick Rivet welcomed on the set of the program “Au Cœur de l'Info” the Labor MP Mahend Gungapersad, the educator Lindsay Thomas as well as MITD coordinator Pravesh Sawon.

“This is a frightening observation. Dropping out of school exists in other countries, and at different levels, but the case of Mauritius calls out for the way in which we try to resolve the problem,” says Labor MP Mahend Gungapersad, for whom the Mauritian system is highly competitive and there are many students who do not understand it. He mentions the two major problems within the system which are the “learning disability” and the “learning difficulty” of students. “Also, Automatic Promotion does not help detect these cases at the start of their school career,” he believes.

“The existing format is based on individual success. It's 'my success' first of all, whereas we should move towards a system which encourages the success of everyone and not just academic success,” he emphasizes.

However, for educator Lindsay Thomas, the figures are distressing, but “on a lot of criteria, the system has not failed. There are many who sing the praises of the system, but it must also be said that they belong to a certain elite of society.” “Unfortunately, what we can criticize about the system is that it leaves a whole segment of the population on the side of the road,” he says.

For Dr Om Varma, educator and former director of the Mauritius Institute of Education, this dropout is explained by the fact that several factors affect academic education, requiring additional effort to succeed. “The learning model must also change,” according to him.

And to help those who need a second chance, MITD offers courses leading to the National Certificate and Diploma (NC2, NC3, NC4, NC5). It offers a pathway for progression from NC2 level to diploma. “We offer courses not only to those who did not succeed in the academic route, but also to those who succeeded and who want to opt for the technical and professional sector. We have around sixty courses in total and the training includes 80% practice and 20% theory,” highlights MITD coordinator Pravesh Sawon, while indicating that the center trains 2,500 young people each year.

Educational monitoring of vulnerable children

Since 2017, the National Social Inclusion Foundation (NSIF) has been helping children experiencing academic difficulties. For Ajay Sowdagur, secretary general of this body, the aim is to support the projects of NGOs which work with people in vulnerable situations. “We work with 200 NGOs each year and among them, there are those that help children with academic difficulties. We find in particular catch-up classes and sports activities,” he emphasizes. NSIF funds these projects.

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