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City of Banjul
Monday, September 28, 2020

Don’t let the guard down on Ebola

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The World Health Organisation says the worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone. New figures published only this Friday showed the recorded death toll in the three countries hit hardest by the outbreak — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea — had climbed to 7,373, up from 6,900 on Wednesday. A total of 392 of those new deaths were in Sierra Leone.

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The new totals include confirmed, probable and suspected Ebola deaths. The WHO says there have also been six Ebola deaths in Mali, eight in Nigeria and one in the United States. The total number of cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia now stands at 19,031, up from 18,569. 

This clearly shows that more than ever now, we need concerted efforts to keep this most deadly of diseases in its tracks.

 

Bai Bojang

Kanifing East

 

 

 

The role of examinations in national development: Gambian context

 

Dear editor,

 

Examination could be considered as a strategy within the global context of learning situations in which progressive assessment of students is precondition to a stage by stage academic promotion. Whereas in the informal sector, the norm takes a different direction in which appropriate responses to difficult situations are a sole determinant. The combined results of formal and informal constitute the degree of preparedness of the students for national development. If the assessment is of a positive nature, we say he/she has passed the best test. If on the other hand, it reads negative; we say he/she has failed the best. These barometric testing of the human being both at the formal and informal levels form the basis of human development, which in essence, is part of the national development process.

The cumulative impact of the socialised individual from the formal and informal sectors should adequately prepare him to shoulder the challenges, trials and tribulations found on national development schemes. This statement is alluding to the fact that such an individual would have passed the formal and informal examinations for human responsibility .The author is aware of the exclusiveness of the incompatibility of the two curriculums. Yet, it is they, the two curriculums, that constitute the totality of the socialisation process.

Let us now define what constitutes the curriculum of the non-formal sector that also has an examination to be passed in the total development of the individual. It is invariably composed of the folk ways, mores and taboos that all of us have been socialised into for the maximum benefit of our inter-human relationships, without which the formal sector would be grossly inadequate in the realm of national development. In retrospect, the formal sector is primarily made up of the taxonomies of block building educational pyramid- namely, the arts, the sciences, the social sciences and the humanities derived from the conventional wisdom of humanity. Exposing the individual to the symbiotic relationship between the formal and informal sectors, qualifies the individual as a nation builder.

Examinations are said to be tools that educators use to assess the progress or otherwise of students… By this dictum, it is implies, that such educators could be teachers in the classrooms, parents at home, or syndicated bodies or associations who are themselves educators; but empowered by political authority or authorities, to oversee and assess at the same time, standardised exams in the educational enterprise, to determine students success or otherwise, for example, Primary six national examination, Grade nine national examination and Grade twelve passing out examinations, all of which are conducted by the West African Examination Council.

The informal sector is inundated with all kinds of examiners. The rite of passage which is part of our traditional socialised process is one of such processes in which the new initiate is taught a set of norms designed to modify his or her behaviour following a three months intensive instructions in bush schools (circumcision).The graduate will invariably master desired social behaviours that would warrant his or her admission into the community of elders in which he or she will have a voice. Other socialising processes involve the associative approach to gender differentiation in which both genders are privileged to take leading roles in putting into practice what had been learned at bush schools (circumcision).Unlike the formal sector, the informal sector has a time frame in which the individual is to master the art of human behaviour and usually it does not exceed the eighteenth birthday of the individual.

National development per se is constantly under examination by examiners who are products of both the formal and informal sectors. Target goals for national development are most often engineered by the formal sector products in the first place; and assisted in the second place in the execution of the activities, by the informal sector products.

Now that we have arrested the national development scenario and confined it to its rightful place, as a base against which society has to be examined with a view to determining the attainment of designated goals, we can now proceed in the examination of the examiners themselves. Here, we can start with the classroom teachers particularly those that may not be qualified to interact with students. Experience elsewhere has shown that the unqualified teachers, if allowed to interact with students in the formal sector. This crucial period of learning process must not be left in the hands of the unqualified instructors. It should, in my personal opinion, be strongly guarded by competent, qualified and dedicated instructors. The formative period of the learning process is the sole determination of a person’s success or otherwise in the life long process of learning. If it is properly and thoroughly engineered, it will facilitate the progressive development of the mind.

It is indeed no easy task to tackle a profound thought-provoking subject as the role of examination in national development, because both development and examinations are categories of human endeavours to be examined by human beings themselves. One cannot discuss either of them without a corresponding reflection on subjectivity. To be objective in a situation requires more than a simple frame of mind.

In this analysis/essay, I wish to detach myself from the objective analysis of examinations within the context of the formal and informal sectors of the learning process by being subjective in saying that examinations like learning are twin aspects of the socialising process and therefore should not be seen as mutually exclusive.

 

 

Musa Val Banja

USA 

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