Lotto for Form E

Lotto for Form E

A couple of months ago Dr Moeketsi Majoro, the finance man who speaks with an American twang, threatened to bless us with our own lotto. He is yet to deliver, so those dreaming of becoming instant millionaires should hold their horses.
Maybe someone from the State House is yet to supply a list of the Chinese chaps they want to benefit from the national gambling gig. Until them, Basotho should stick to betting on football, horses, morabaraba and the weather.

But while Majoro is still cooking his national lottery pot the Ministry of Education has been silently brewing its own lotto. Last week, they finally announced their own version of the lottery. Theirs will be played by students.
After the Form E students write their final exams someone will meticulously molest and massage their grades so that a fail becomes a pass.
They call it “normalisation of the distribution”, according to the ministry’s PS Dr Neo Liphoto, but it is just a way of tinkering with grades to reward failure and mediocrity. So a ‘U’ will miraculously turn into a ‘C’. Ds shall be Bs and Cs will be As.

Dr Liphoto said this chicanery was necessary to help students get into tertiary after being affected by the teachers’ strike. If he had stopped there then his statement would not be so scandalous, especially after explaining that this “normalization of the distribution” happens every year but the ministry doesn’t scream about it.
But undeterred, Dr Liphoto bluntly said students should be “assured that the ministry of education is aware of the impact of the strike and promises to meet them half-way to ensure they manage to enroll in tertiary institutions of their choice”.

So there you have it: a lottery of Form E grades has been launched with pomp and fanfare. And the garrulous Letsatsi Ntsibulane with his indolent battalion are the instigators of this underage gambling.
Muckraker is not sure if Majoro is not in on this one. It could be that he pleaded with the Ministry of Education to launch a pilot project of the national lottery he has been threatening to deliver.
Perhaps the idea is to catch them young so they quickly get hooked to gambling when the real lotto comes. Muckraker is astounded by the brazen way this gambling-for-kids project has been launched.

Thanks to the education ministry’s blabbering the students know that standards will be lowered to help them into colleges. It is a stunning move because it admits, without shame or hesitation, that this year dunderheads and lazybones who bask in the sun like lizards will have a free ticket to colleges.

Instantly, the ministry has binned the incentive to work hard.
Whoever fails Form E this year has no reason to breathe our air. You have to be hopelessly dull to fail an exam whose grades are rigged by the government.
We don’t know how the ministry will decide the fair grade but we can assume there will be a significant mark called the “teachers’ strike allowance”. So while the teachers were bellowing for a “hardship allowance” the ministry was concocting a “teachers’ strike allowance” for students.

Muckraker would not have been shrieking if this had been done behind closed doors. The ministry has been transparent in its shenanigans.
What infuriates Muckraker is the ministry’s reason for this naked tomfoolery. As Dr Liphoto said, the idea is to ensure students get into tertiary institutions of their choice. In other words, the whole point of this year’s From E exams is not to test students’ competence but to help them sneak into colleges.

It’s a way to offload raw students on colleges. What happens to the chuff once it invades colleges’ lecture rooms is not the ministry’s business. College lecturers should be very afraid of a swarm of raw students coming.
As for the students, they should not worry because the ministry has made a solemn promise to meet then “half-way”. The striking teachers will still thump their hairy and breasted chests because something marvelous will come out of their sabotage.

The other trouble with this lotto is that it’s patently unfair. The whole gambling industry is built on an illusion that you have a fair chance of hitting the jackpot. The same cannot be said of this year’s Form E lotto which rewards everyone who has played. It’s the only lottery where everyone is a winner.
There are free marks for everyone who has bothered to show up for the exams.

The other gulling aspect of this lotto is its ad hoc nature. It assumes that the teachers’ strike is the only reason students will not perform well this year.
Yet we all know that even if teachers were in class the whole year some students would still not have a fighting chance.

In previous years a student that walked 10km to a school was graded the same as a student who lives in a school hostel. Those who go to school hungry were competing with those who have cereals and eggs in the morning.
Orphans that miss classes because they have to find food were still graded the same as those who live in stable homes and are pampered.
In some areas students miss class because a river is flooded. Some are taught by incompetent teachers. Others have to make do with indolent teachers. Some schools don’t have books.

Yet there was never a time when the ministry applied this lotto to compensate them for their troubles.
For the system to be fair each student must have an opportunity to explain their case. Section A of every exam paper should have a space for a student to explain their troubles during the year.

“Dear Examiner, when you mark this paper please know that it was written by a hungry student”.
“Sir, I write this exam with a heavy heart after being dumped by my boyfriend.”

“Madam, while you mark this paper from the comfort of a rocking chair you should remember that I wrote it while sitting on a hard bench.”
“Sir, I should remind you that what you are about to mark is not my work alone. My English teacher is so inept that she cannot spell the word ‘cantankerous’”.
Only then can this lotto resemble some fair process.

The story of this scandal cannot be complete without a few words on the duplicity it exudes.
A government that failed to resolve the teachers’ strike has now found a way to cut corners to get students into colleges. It is clear that the ministry is saving itself from the wrath of both the students and the parents.
Their message to the teachers is that even if they don’t work the students will still pass because the ministry decides the grades.

The ministry’s solution is to lower the standards to compensate the students for the problem it could not solve. There is absolutely no reason why the exams could not be postponed for students to catch up.
Temporary teachers could be hired for remedial lessons.
But we don’t live in normal times. Neither do we care about the impact of this lotto on future generations.

Still colleges should not be alarmed for they have always received half-baked students even when teachers were working. To guard against nasty surprises they should just assume that a D is a U and a C is an E.
In any case, that is how it has always been. The government has always been on a mission to remove the competitive streak from our education system. The idea is to undermine excellence.

That is why Grade Sevens are allowed to dive into secondary school without proper exams. It is the reason why college students are allowed to haggle over grades. The idea is that we should all be equal on the scale of mediocrity. Gifted students should not be allowed to shine because it is bad for uniformity. We want to raise the standard of our education by punishing smart and hardworking students.
Indeed, we have redefined the concept of affirmative action.

Some people have pleaded with Muckraker to write something about Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the despotic former president of Zimbabwe, who has finally kicked the bucket at 95.
Let’s not pretend that Mugabe is a hero. There is no point in labelling him a pan-Africanist. He was a greedy autocrat who looted from his people to enrich himself.

He was a thug who thrived on demagoguery to cover up his brute and incompetent ways. Nyoe, nyoe, he stood up to the white man. Holy crap!
Mugabe was white in everything, from accent, mannerism to dressing. He only fought with the British when they supported the opposition. His land reform programme was an afterthought.

It had to be forced on him by his people who were squashed in barren rural lands. And even when he did parcel out the land he made sure to keep dozens of farms to himself. His cronies amassed lots of farms too.
He could have had the reforms without unleashing the chaos that destroyed the country’s thriving agriculture sector.

If the land reform was a roaring success then Zimbabwe would not be importing maize and wheat.
Nyeo, nyoe, he loved his people. Nonsense! He impoverished, tortured and persecuted them.
He was a loud orator bereft of substance. The man was not an intellectual despite his many degrees.

A jack of all trades and a master of none, he leaves no written book. What we have are barbs, insults and outbursts of anger. Blah, blah he was looking out for his people. Crap! The chap destroyed a vibrant health sector. His body lies in a foreign morgue because he ruined local hospitals.
The biggest baloney is that Mugabe educated his people. Where and how did he do that? We should never credit leaders for doing what they are elected to do. It was his job. It’s like praising a fish for swimming when it’s in water.

And what did he do after educating them? He left them to wallow in poverty with degrees under their mattresses. Only an idiot educates his people so they can sell brooms and trinkets in foreign lands.
Let’s cut this lie that Mugabe liberated Zimbabweans. He was part of the team he joined late and reluctantly so. Anyone who calls Mugabe a good leader has never been to Zimbabwe.

They don’t know the ruination Mugabe visited upon his people.
They don’t know the opulence that he lived in, his uncultured wife and spoilt rascals enjoyed life while the masses struggled. Muckraker has wasted too much newsprint on this dictator. So she will stop now.
Suffice to say Mugabe was a thief. A thief of dreams, prosperity, dignity, money, rights, food, decency and hope. Ha a tsamae!

Nka! Ichuuuuuuuuuuu!

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