PROMOTION STANDARDS IN KENYAN EDUCATION SYSTEM
The government of Kenya is committed to the provision of quality education to her citizens. Education and training have been singled out in the attainment of Vision 2030 as the vehicle through which the country will attain her aim of being a middle-income economy. The quality of education is usually affected by a number of factors, this paper explore the policy on transition of students from one class to another. There are two policies on transition namely social promotion and grade retention.
Grade retention also known as grade repetition refers to the process of retaining a student in the same class for a subsequent year mainly due to failure. Students who repeat a class are commonly referred to as repeaters.
Many arguments have been put forward for and against grade retention as a policy
There has been no clear evidence showing either of the policy on promotion being either helpful or harmful because each has its advantages as well as disadvantages.
Harm from retention cited by these critics include:
Research by Guanglei Hong and Stephen Raudenbush show that retaining students in a class harms rather than hurts the retained students while on the other hand it fails to provide benefits to non-retained/promoted students. The research considered students who were considered by proponents of the grade retention policy as the "safest" children to hold back, and the conclusion that was arrived at was the fact that repetition leaves most students even further behind, and, therefore, delays these children's cognitive development over the repetition year. Although students who repeat a class improve their performance the second year in the same class, critics of retention policy argue that they would have learned more if they had been given an opportunity to move to the next class.
- Grade retention may lower the self esteem of the student and make them feel as if they were mentally inferior and in turn cause them to give up on their academics. It may also cause them to be the subject of ridicule and bullying by other students.
Those students who are retained tend to display improvement in performance however there is no evidence of long-term academic benefit for retained students. Opponent of repetition point out that those students who are retained perform dismally compared to other low-scoring students who are promoted. They argue that any initial improvement that is noticed in the year that they are retained cannot be sustained. That is,a student who repeats a class is likely to be doing well as compared to his or her classmates who were promoted from the previous class but two or more years later, he or she will most likely fall behind landing at the bottom of the class once more.
- Grade retention may lead to increased rates of dangerous behaviors such as drinking, drug abuse, crime, teenage pregnancy, depression, and suicide among retained students as compared with similarly performing promoted students.citation needed
· Critics of retention also note that retention is expensive for school systems and since resources are scarce it is economically stressful to retain a student in the same grade over different years: requiring a student to repeat a grade is essentially to add one student for a year to the school system, assuming that the student does not drop out.
· The possibility of grade retention has been shown to be a significant source of stress for students. In one study of childhood fears performed in the 1980s, the top three fears for US sixth graders were a parent's death, going blind, and being retained. After two decades of increasing retention practices, a repeat of the study in 2001 found that grade retention was the single greatest fear, higher than loss of a parent or going blind.This change likely reflects the students' correct perception that they were statistically far more likely to repeat the sixth grade than to suffer the death of a parent or the loss of their vision.
Arguments for grade retention
Proponents of grade retention as a policy in our education system point out the fact that promoting a student who has not learned the required material is a deception to the student. Such a student is likely to fail in other classes. Opponents of social promotion argue that it has the following negative impacts:
- Students who are promoted without gaining the skill and knowledge expected of them at one class cannot do the work in the next class, and so by promoting them to the subsequent class they are being set up for further failure.
- Students will have many failures in the the subsequent classes, which will most likely lead to dropping out.
- Promotion of students regardless of performance sends the message to all students that they can get by without working hard hence discouraging them from working and instead encourages laxity in education.
- It forces teachers to deal with under-prepared students while trying to teach the prepared.
- It gives parents a false sense of their children's progress.
- It will not get them the help they need.
Some hold that most students at the elementary school level don't take their education seriously and therefore retention in early years is unlikely to be effective. Since pre-teens and teenagers value their education more, retention should be used if they have inadequate skills for the next level or class.
Social promotion is the practice of promoting a student to the next class only at the end of an academic year, regardless of when or whether they learned the necessary material, in order to keep them with their peers by age, that being the intended social grouping
The Basic Education Bill 2012 presents that no student who is admitted in a school in Kenya shall be held back in any class or be expelled from school and according to Republic of Kenya (2012) Godia points out that at the primary school level, the curriculum should be restructured in such a way that it is broad based, skills and competency based, and should promote national values and allow for automatic progression from one level to the other and from one grade to the other.