The Ministry of Education has proposed elimination of National Primary Level Exams (PLE) to save government from spending over Rwf3.7billion annually on conducting the examinations.
The Minister of Education, Eugene Mutimura proposed this while appearing before the parliamentary National Budget and Patrimony Committee to discuss the budget for fiscal year 2018/19 and Budget Framework Paper 2018/19-2020/21.
“We think that this is something that can be considered in future – to cut on expenses of conducting and monitoring the PLE exams, which is costly, yet some developed countries go without this exam and the system is working well,” Mutimura told Parliament.
According to Mutimura, scraping the whole PLE exam process will enable the automatic promotion and increase the current secondary school enrolment from 75% to the 100% desired target and address the 3% primary school dropout rate reported in 2017.
However, educationists believe that the attempt to remove PLE exams will undermine quality of education.
Professor Wenceslas Nzabalirwa, a former Vice Rector at Kigali Institute of Education now College of Education said PLE exams are relevant but there is a middle ground that can be taken to make this new move applicable.
“Our system can do a balance. To carry on with PLE exams but also give weight to curriculum based formative assessment or continuous assessment so that the final exams is not the only determinant of student’s performance,” Nzabalirwa said.
In this case, Nzabalirwa says that a policy must be put in place to ensure that the assessments carry a percentage mark which can be used to identify a child’s education progress accompanied by a final exam- for certification purposes.
For Patrick Murenzi, the Head Teacher of Remera Academy Primary School: “At each level of education one must prove he is capable of something – we cannot ignore final exams. If this happens we will demolish the whole system and intentions of hard work and targets while at school,” Murenzi told KTPress.
For Andre Twagirayezu, secondary school teacher at Horizon School in Kabuga, scrapping PLE exams would save government funds because auto promotion is already happening in schools.
Jean Baptiste Mbanza Hategikimana, a lecturer at Catholic Institute of Kabgayi (ICK) says, “the fact that automatic promotion exists in Primary school, adding on scrapping final exams will be a disaster in the education system.”
He further said that “children need to grow in a system of competition. Scrapping examinations at lower level would be encouraging laziness among students,” Hategikimana said.