Saturday, September 26, 2009

In Defense of Poor Grades

I was commenting on the less than amazing quality of education and low standards as is so easy to do, when I came to a realization. I had been criticizing students who aim for a passing grade in a system where 40/100 and above is a pass. My original comment was to say that most of the time in the American grading system, a 60/100 is a pass, but why would one want to be satisfied with a mere pass anyway? Why not shoot for an "A" or a "B"? As I made the statement I noticed I was sitting near an ethnic Fula girl who had not completed school. She had either never attended or had performed poorly and dropped out early. But I knew the girl and I understood she was a hard worker and that she was generally interested in learning. That was one of the main reasons she was involved in a youth training/loan program. To expand her knowledge and increase her opportunity in achieving financial independence.

All of a sudden it hit me as I pictured this girl in school. She wouldn't have failed to achieve high scores because of lack of will power, on the contrary, she very much appreciates the value of education. If she had received poor results, it would have been because of a lack of encouragement and assistance. Coming from a background with illiterate parents in a largely illiterate village the older generation and some of her young peers may not be fully aware of the benefits of school and thus are unwilling or unable to support the current generation of students.

In that social situation achieving a 40/100 could be considered a moderate success and such a student should be highly praised considering the conditions they're up against. Ideally however, people should start waking up and realizing the benefits that formal education can bring. The reality is that not every parent can help students with their school work, yet every parent should have the prescience and motivation to help their children find assistance, even if they have to seek it outside of their compound or home village. Later on I hope the parents will be able to advise their own kids. Lets hope were moving closer to that vision.

Formal education and literacy are essential to development. Period.

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