By Itumeleng Koleile
Maseru – The Minister of Education and Training honorable Ntoi Rapapa said Lesotho hosts the conference at an appropriate time following the recent changes in the newly integrated curriculum, when he opened the 36TH annual Association for Educational Assessment in Africa.
Dr. Rapapa said Lesotho’s hosting of the conference is an opportune moment because the country is going through many educational changes. “To mention a few, we have recently phased out the primary school leaving examinations and introduced an integrated curriculum which emphasizes the 21st century skills and creative education. We also have included learners with special needs in our educational agenda as the country plans to bring about massive changes in secondary education,” he said.
He therefore emphasized that “the overarching theme ‘reforming educational assessment: a renewed agenda’ serves as a wake-up call for assessment bodies as the 21st century knowledge, skills and expertise requires them to have a re-look at their role,” he said. He highlighted that the need for integrating of technology into assessment together with the broadening array of candidates the assessment bodies have to cater for, have introduced completely new dimensions in the mandate of the very bodies.
He however stated that stakeholders in the education sector get challenged with the curriculum and assessment innovations. “They ask serious questions which indeed need to be answered in relation to the postmodern changes,” the minister said. He said in most cases educators refer stakeholders to educational policies and yet the biggest question is who has inputs in the policies “if not the global literati that we are.”
He further expressed that through the conference, he encouraged and looked forward to the constructive criticism as a way to improving the education standards. According to the minister, an input into policy making by technocrats would be highly anticipated. Additionally so, he made it a point that there was a need not to alienate other important stakeholders: school proprietors, parents, learners and the general public as they have both direct and indirect interest in education.
Furthermore, the AEAA vice president, Dr. Litšabako Ntoi indicated that the curriculum and assessment dynamism happens as educators forge ways of merging practices with real life challenges. She made it a point that it should be noted that the world is advancing thus content and ways of teaching needs to be at par with the evolving technology.
“Merging classroom practices with real life challenges is a necessity. If that were not the case, our learners would be taught the same content we learned, in the same style that it was delivered to us, using the same assessment methodologies, as if the world is not advancing,” the AEAA vice president said.
Meanwhile, the principal secretary of basic education, Dr. Thabiso Lebese stated that as per the conference, the mandatory role of the assessment bodies is on assisting ministries of education to quality assure their products. He commended the Examination’s Council of Lesotho for having contributed to the assessment of the national curricula as well as monitoring the educational system as a whole ranks supreme in the country. “Admittedly, they work in collaboration with other stakeholders who are mindful of the quality assurance in education, particularly through measurement and evaluation,” he said.
He expressed his gratitude to ECOL for having devoted their time to preparations of the conference and having successfully undertaken such preparations. He emphasized that although Lesotho is tiny as often described, ECOL proved beyond any doubt that it is a tiny country with a big heart. He finally took the stand to applaud the AEAA for having allowed Lesotho to be host for the momentous event of the year.
The AEAA was established in 1982 as the sub-regional conference of heads of institutions responsible for Educational Assessment in Eastern and Southern African. The founding members of the association were Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Lesotho and Malawi. The association is the member of the International Association of Educational Assessment (IAEA).