It is widely believed that education is a distinct human necessity, whether it is formal or informal, education in itself is universally a basic human right alongside food, shelter, and the prerequisites of humans fundamentally worldwide in egalitarian societies.
Education unlocks the innate potential of citizens in nations,more so in developing nations spanning to Africa and South East Asia and many other nations around the globe.
The notion that knowledge is power iterated through centuries by philosophers in addition to the noble trade of teaching, that education is the human key to discovery, quintessentially primordial and hard wired to the brain.
Conversely, new age economists and social commentators have also earmarked education as an essential tool to complimenting economic and social accomplishments, giving rise to wellbeing and national advancement simultaneously.
In Mauritius much of these observations and notations are expressed in recent national and international reports, statistics and surveys suggesting that a rising trend in educational capacity is being attained on in the island nation.
Revealing that the current education system and policies are at the forefront of human capacity building, attributed largely to educational performance by students .
Fresh figures from the Ministry of Education, Central Statistics Office and Mauritius Examinations Syndicate indeed suggest an improvement in education performance and academic attainment in the country across all educational levels giving prominence to this rise in education brick building, which has been forged over many years.
It was revealed that in the year ending December 2011 the Pass rate for Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) examinations enlarged from 68 % in 2009 to 68.5% in 2010. For the School Certificate (SC), the pass rate progressed somewhat from 77.6% in 2009 to 77.8% in 2010.
The Cambridge Higher School Certificate or know in the country as HSC (Higher School Certificate) has seen some signs of positive light as well. In 2004, it was 76%; it has up surged to 79 per cent in 2011.
Computers in classrooms are also more prevalent than they were a decade ago. As of March 2011, out of the 1,018 pre-primary schools on the island441 or (43%) had computers.
All primary and secondary schools were furnished with computers and Schools having internet access for students stood at 4% in pre-primary, 58% in primary and over 96% in secondary schools.
The number of candidates who participated in the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) examinations was 25,624 of which 23,156 were public school candidates and 2,468 private, with an indicative global pass rate of 65%.
The pass rate among school candidates, which comprised 12,048 boys and 11,108 girls, was69%. The girls were more successful however than the boys, with respective pass rates of 74% and 63% across all subjects, a rising trend worldwide.
The overall pass rate among the 2,468 private system students consisting 1,475 boys and 993 girls was 27%, with girls again achieving healthier results than boys, 30% versus 25% respectively.
It was revealed that School candidates who took part in the CPE examinations for the first time fared better than those re-sitting the examinations, 76% versus 37%.
Total enrolment in pre-primary schools numbered 33,901, of whom 17,282 were boys and 16,619 girls .The overall Enrolment Ratio for pre-primary enrolment as a percentage of the population aged 4 and 5 years, which was 97 per cent.
Secondary education enrolment increased from 115,003 in 2010 to reach115, 289 in 2011.Of this figures indicated that 60,101 were girls and 55,188 or 48 per cent were boys.
According to the Tertiary Education Commission of Mauritius over 1300 students graduated in a Science or Technology associated field of which 440 were in Information Technology, 309 in medical and health and 255 in various engineering disciplines at public universities.
Equally, 2,424 graduates were in the field of education, and Management 668, with some 410 graduating in arts, languages or humanities.
The University Of Mauritius had 2172 graduations in 2010 compared to 1124 graduates in 2004, virtually doubling over 6 years, according to annual reports.
The Gross Enrolment Ratio for tertiary education as a percentage of the Population aged between 20 to 24 years old, which was 43.4% in 2009, stretched to 45.1 % in 2010.
The number of students taking part in the Cambridge Higher School Certificate Examination stood at 9,813 consisting of 4,146 males and 5,667 females. However, the average pass rate was78.3percentage, slightly lower than the 2009 figure of 78.8 %.
The adult average literacy rate for both sexes was estimated at 89.8% according to the census made by the Central Statistics Office of Mauritius in 2011. Male literacy was 92.3% and female 87.3%, one of the highest in the Africa.
Although current figures from UNICEF suggest that between the ages of 15-24 years old literacy rate for males is 97 per cent and for females at 96 per cent.
Moreover, the country HDI (Human Development Index) trends based on education alone have played a prominent role in the country’s achievement in the African region.
In fact between 1980 and 2011, Mauritian average years of tuition enlarged by 2.7 years and expected years of schooling increased by 4.5 years.
As to Mauritius’s GNI(Gross National Income per capita which is largely correlated to educational quality, increased by around 252per cent between 1980 and 2011 trailing behind Botswana, Kenya, Ghana and Uganda according to recent UN reports.
Although statistics can be misleading, a trend can be taken out of some of these findings. Nevertheless, what is the reason behind the rise in student performance and enrolment rates on the island nation? What is the cause and symptoms of these apparently positive outcomes?
After the country attained independence in 1968, the evolution of schooling became one of the leading fixations of the then Mauritian Labour Government that revolved around contemporary challenges confronting the country, typical of small island states.
In order to inspire Mauritian youngsters to face emerging and competitive challenges of the new age, the locomotive of educational growth was paramount for Mauritius economically and socially.
According to the UNESCO Mauritius Country Report 2011 in one, its findings stated that major socioeconomic and technological advancements at the domestic and international levels have had a profound effect in which the nation has had to re-align to educational practices and delivery over the years.
Conversely, the Mauritian government has recently identified through its Education and Human Resources Strategy Plan -2008-2020 that continually identifies that the success of the economy falls on knowledge based one, which will enhance social welfare. With current examination results seeing an upswing from primary to tertiary level education, some of its past investment seems to be finally coming to fruition.
However, education in the country has not gone without negative consequences in low-income families, which account for around 40 per cent of the population.
Frequent media criticism by political columnists have targeted the role of government in education and warned that current government statistics do not reflect poor populations, iterating that the figures and reports are exaggerated.
In 2004 the Ministry of Education seeked to reform the CPE system and created the ZEP-Zone Education Proirtare or (Prioritized Education Zone) concept to best cater for disadvantaged children within the education system because of high dropout rates, with the help of NGO’S around the island which forged a new way to tackle the issues of education in less developed regions and low income families.
The concept was designed and formulated for underperforming or low pass rate schools in poor districts, thus meritoriously influencing raising the standard of achievement of these particular schools and pupils.
In the northern outskirts of Port Louis ,the MPRB-Movement for the Progress of Roche Bois ,a centre that deals with around 300 students from low income families a year who have dropped out of primary and secondary school system.
Edwidge Dukie, the Director of MPRB told the Africa Review that in terms of students in low-income families in poverty it is a real issue in their education in the country saying a large percentage of students are dropping out of school.
Educational access for people in poverty is not great; there is an ignorant service delivery by the government. The government has a system, which is non-inclusive and does not cater well for poor people .We caters for dropout children, they are not going to school, and they go to school with us, around 30 per cent drop out yearly.”
We can close our eyes to reality but it exists here and around the island. The government do not have proper plans in place; they have findings and reports, and then create policies with no real direction. They look at what areas have political importance and they concentrate on these areas to gain supportDukie adds.
In 2004, research was sanctioned by the MPRB, in partnership with Dr Jean-Claude Thi Keng of the Analysis Consultant Group with joint collaboration with the European Unions –Decentralised Co-operation Program in education in low-income communities.
The research found that historically, failures are contributed to the helplessness of the children to adjust themselves to the education curriculum in Mauritius, with the difficult economic condition of the parents and lack of academic achievement in the family environs, which was attributed to poor performance or results.
Heralding in substantial investment, both human and physical, has been put into the education segment and remarkable progress has been achieved in terms of free, comprehensive, obligatory primary education, free schoolbooks, free secondary education, much of this is infrastructure driven not results driven.
With broad diversities of higher education courses at the publically funded University of Mauritius, which are partly free to date, but is this sufficient?
Currently, Mauritius spends an estimated 13 per cent overall government expenditure on education, according to the United Nations, and in 2011, government spending on education hit Rs 11.7 million 384,868,425 (USD), certainly helping the 60 per cent of middle to high-income families.
It seems thus far that the figures are coming out of the 60 per cent of the population students. Are statistics and reports suggesting this to be true of the 40 per cent entrenched in deep-seated poverty or streaming out of low-income families?