|The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports|
PROGRESS TOWARDS GOALS AND TARGETS
EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT
In Mauritius, the concept of Early Childhood Development (ECD) and Early Childhood Education (ECE) as well as other supportive activities for the development of the child has been recognised long before 1990 (although the terminology was not used).
Pre-schools were mostly run by private individuals, sometimes not in the proper The schools provided a form of education in relation with the programme of grade 1 of the primary sector. Due to economic or social reasons only a section of the children of that age-group, that is 4 and 5 years could attend these schools. Gradually the number increased as awareness increased and the policy of the government started focussing on the issue.
Hence, after Jomtiem conference, the Plan on Education came out with some policies and goals for the ECD. The main aim was to have all children of age 4 and 5 years in pre-primary schools located in appropriate buildings with trained teachers. To attain these objectives, it was necessary to have the following measures taken :
The Action Plan for a New Education System in Mauritius (1998) reinforced what was spelt out in the previous Plan. The main objectives of the actual Plan regarding ECD are given below:
PROGRESS TOWARDS GOALS AND TARGETS
The implementation of the objectives set out in the Masterplan started in 1992. Several steps were taken aiming at the goals.
The registration of pre-schools started in 1993. A minimum standard of infrastructure was required for registration. Soft loans of Rs 10,000 were given to each private school to improve its environment. Provision of pedagogical materials on low cost was made to private pre-primary schools.
The decision of setting up pre-primary classes in Primary schools was taken. Thus, the unutilised rooms found in Primary schools were given for Pre-primary classes. These were set up with the help of private sponsors and are financially run by the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) while being at the same time supervised by the Primary School Head Teacher.
In 1996 , 43 Pre-Primary schools were constructed in the Primary School compound. This was a World Bank Project costing around Rs 57 million. Priority was given to the deprived areas. The Municipal Councils and Village Councils also run free Pre-primary classes . In 1998 , they had 58 or 5% of the schools under their administration.
Pre-schools, those found in primary schools and the private schools, were supported and monitored by Primary school inspectors. To improve the quality of guidance / teaching Certificate training courses were given to pre-school teachers by the Mauritius Institute of Education. Teacher Educators/Supervisors look into the pedagogy to ensure a standard in the quality of education provided.
In 1996, government came forward with the decision of providing Rs 200 , representing the
school fees, to each child aged 4 years ( the number of children age 4 years is around 20,000). This was to ensure that each child start primary education with at least one year of pre-school experience.
The curriculum (programme guidelines) has already been prepared on lines set out by the new Plan of Action. However, each school is allowed sufficient margin of flexibility to adapt the curriculum according to the social environment of the child, making place for a large number of activities.
The exercise of having a smooth transition from Pre-primary to primary is in progress. A portfolio system is being worked out to allow a better understanding of the childs abilities and skills.
The pre-school teachers will soon have the opportunity to improve or upgrade their qualification through distance education, a program run by Mauritius Institute of Education and Mauritius College of the Air.
The pre-schools are already being supported and monitored by primary school inspectors trained in ECD. Special awareness programmes are also organised for parents to enable them to play a more constructive role in the improvement of their school and to provide more supportive familial environment to their children.
Gross Enrolment Rate (GER)
The Gross Enrolment Ratio is the total number of children enrolled in early childhood development programmes, irrespective of age, expressed as a percentage of the official age-group that is (4-5) years for Mauritius.
The GER measures the level of participation of young children in early childhood development programmes. It also indicates the countrys capacity to prepare young children for primary education.
The Gross Enrolment Ratio which was stagnant at 78% since 1993, increased significantly to reach 98% in 1998. This was mainly due to governments commitment to provide facilities in terms of infrastructure in primary schools and grants to pre-school children. The genderwise disparity in enrolment is insignificant, the female to male ratio being 1.GER in Early Childhood Development programmes by region, 1998 (est.)
The GER by district given in Fig 1 above differ between districts. It is found that in three districts (two districts being urban), the GER is above 100% when the national rate is 98%. This can be interpreted by the movement of children from place of residence to place of parents work.
1.1.2 Entrants to primary grade 1 with ECD experience
In 1998, nearly 96% of the children entering Primary school had at least one year of ECD experience. This rate is likely to increase in future as a result of the different facilities and attention being given to the children of this age.
Fig. 2: % of new entrants to primary grade 1 with ECD experience by type of institution
2. PRIMARY EDUCATION
The primary schools are mostly government and aided schools. A decline in the number of schools is observed as compared to 1990. This is mainly due to the closing of those primary with very few children. These schools were converted into vocational schools. However, new schools were built in new residential areas.
able 4: Primary schools by administration
2.2 Apparent Intake Rate (AIR)
The Apparent Intake Rate (AIR) is the new entrants in primary grade 1 expressed as a percentage of the official entry age. The AIR reflects the general level of access to primary education as well as the capacity of the education system to provide access to grade 1 for the official school-entrance age population.
Table 5: Evolution of Apparent Intake Rate in Primary Education
The entry age to primary education is 5 years. Since there is no repeater at this grade and very few over-aged children being admitted, the Apparent Intake Rate and the Net Intake Rate will not differ significantly.
The primary school population shows some fluctuations which are mainly due to demographic changes. Thus, the number of children enrolled in primary schools decreased from 137,491 in 1990 to its lowest number that is 122,895 in 1995 and again started increasing to reach 130,505 in 1998.
Table 6: Evolution in Enrolment by gender
The overall school population is expressed as a percentage of the official primary school age population, which is (6 11) years.
Table 7: Gross Enrolment Ratio by gender
The entry age to primary school is strictly 6 years. The GER was found to be higher than 100% as almost all children are enrolled in schools and also because of the high number of repeaters in grade 6 who were trying to improve their results. With access being provided to vocational schools, the number of repeaters at grade 6 is gradually declining, thus a decline in GER.
The proportion of children aged (6 11) years enrolled in schools ranges from 98% to 99%.
Table 8: Evolution of Net Enrolment Rate in primary schools
The NER is 98% which implies that nearly all children of that age-group are in school. There is no gap in NER for boys and girls as the gender parity index is 1.
Public Expenditure on Education
The budget devoted to Education has increased from Rs 9,040 million in 1990 to Rs 22,300 million in 1998. In addition, the relative share of resources allocated to Primary Education in relation to total public expenditure has risen from Rs 1,257 million in 1990 to Rs 3,284 million in 1998.
Table 9: Trends in public expenditure on education
Public current expenditure on education by level
Fig. 3: public current expenditure on education by level
Public current expenditure in primary education as percentage of GNP
The public current expenditure in primary education expressed as a percentage of GNP shows the share of the value of the total national production of goods and services in a given year that has been devoted to primary education.
Table 10: Evolution of expenditure on education
The unit public cost of a primary school pupil in relation to GNP per capita increased from 8% in 1990 to 10% in 1998.
The teaching staff is divided into two categories, namely the General Purpose teachers and the Asian Language teachers. The General Purpose teachers has the responsibility of the class while the asian Language teachers are given the task of teaching an additional language, that of the forefathers.
The teachers in primary education are all academically qualified, this being the criteria for recruitment. Since all teachers have to follow a 2-year in-service training before teaching, it can be said that all teachers are professionally qualified.
Table 11: Teaching staff in primary education with academic and professional qualifications
Internal Efficiency of the Education System
The repetition Rates in lower grades are almost negligible. The highest number of repeaters are found in grade 6, because of those pupils who fail the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) and stayed in school to improve their results. There were other pupils also who passed the CPE and were repeating so as to get better results and thus get admitted to a good secondary school. The repetition Rate decreased from 33% to 20% in 1998.
Table 13: Efficiency Rates by grade
Achievement Rate to final grade examination
The primary school pupils are examined at the end of the primary cycle through a national examination, the Certificate of Primary Education.
Table 14: Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) results
The CPE pass rates improved by 9% since 1990. The performance gap between boys and girls is 10% in favour of girls.
Analysis of regional results show that four districts have obtained pass rates which are higher than the national pass rate which is 65%.
Table 15: CPE pass rates % by district
A Literate person is defined as someone who can both read and write with understanding a short simple statement in his everyday life. This ratio measures level of learning opportunities available in general. Through the 1990 Population Census the Literacy was studied. The Literacy Gender Parity Ratio is 0.9 as there is a gap between men and women who are literate.
Table 16: Literacy rate by age-group and gender
Fig. 4: Literacy
Literacy Rates % by district
3. NINE YEAR SCHOOLING
The Masterplan on Education make provision for a Nine year schooling for all children whether they pass the CPE or not. Those who pass the CPE will proceed to secondary school while the remaining pupils will go to Pre-vocational centres for a three-year course. There will be a selection process at Form III to help orient pupils to different choices at School Certificate level
One of the main objective of the Action Plan is the idea of Nine-year Compulsory and Fundamental Education Cycle which is based on the notion of equity and fairness to all, irrespective of social class, ethnic or gender differences. It aims at removing the fundamental disadvantages associated with the present system which seeks to grade and select a child at too early an age when he is not prepared for a competitive examination.
The new system will take into consideration the problems of late developers and will eliminate public labelling of the child as a failure. It will place more emphasis on the all round development of the child through the provision of a broad based curriculum over a period of nine years.
In the Nine-year Compulsory and Fundamental Education Cycle, the child will, after Pre-school education, join the year one of primary school and will be expected to complete nine grades of schooling. In our context, this will involve 6 years of schooling in our primary schools, from Standard I to VI and three years of schooling in a Middle School offering classes for Forms I to III.
Enrolment in Lower secondary (Grades 7-9)
Though the 9-yr schooling has not been made compulsory, considerable efforts are made to keep children of age (12 14) years in schools. The children who pass the CPE are admitted in secondary schools, which cater for pupils from grades 1 to 6. Those did not succeed at CPE are enrolled in vocational schools for three years, that is grade 9.
Table 18: Enrolment in Lower secondary (grades 7-9)
Gross Enrolment Ratio
This indicator shows the number of children in the age-group of (12-14)years enrolled in Lower secondary schools. The GER increased from 65% in 1990 to 91% in 1998. It is found that the proportion of girls 91% at this level is slightly higher than that of boys 90%.
Table 19: Gross Enrolment Rates in Lower Secondary (grades 7-9)
Gross Enrolment Ratio (grades 1 9)
While analysing the achievement made in giving access to the (6 14) year olds children, it is observed that more children has been retained in schools since 1990. The GER which was 90% in 1990 has improved to reach 101% in 1998. It is also found that the proportion of girls is higher than boys.
Table 20: Gross Enrolment Ratio in relation with 9-year schooling
Net Enrolment Rate
The proportion of children enrolled in schools and who are of the official age-group (6 14) years was 90%, an increase of 5% since 1990. More girls are retained in schools than boys.
Table 21: Net Enrolment Rates in Grades (1 9)