I’ve just finished reading an article on Le Mauricien entitled Computing : des Courseworks sous-traités et tarifés. In the article, the journalist explains how HSc students in Mauritius pay some teachers, some lecturers, some past students and even some IT professional (what this may mean) to do their projects for money and this is done with the benediction of parents.
Here is a revealing quote from the article:
Les “services” de ces “helpers” sont tarifés selon la complexité du travail. “Pas moins de Rs 5 000 ; cela peut aller jusqu’à Rs 15 000. Un contractuel qui ne se contente que d’un coursework par an demandera un prix élevé. Mais celui qui produit plusieurs projets réclamera Rs 5 000 à Rs 6 000 à chaque candidat ” affirme cet enseignant. Des enseignants de Computing relatent ce cas référé à la police, il y a trois ans, et impliquant un enseignant qui avait réclamé Rs 4 000 pour chaque “commande” reçue. [...] Le plus grave, indique-t-on, c’est que ces travaux réalisés à l’école se font, dans la majorité des cas, avec la bénédiction des parents.
The article also states that some students are now adepts of copying prior works from the Internet or even from past students. The journalist writes that more frequent and thorough verifications from the MES would be a good thing in order to help reduce this problem.
Personally, I feel the problem runs deep in our education system where accent is on succeeding at exams instead of acquiring knowledge and mastering a skill. Students and parents both wrongly believe that what is important is that piece of paper from Cambridge. They forget that the essential reason why people study is to become productive adults who can work efficiently so as to have time to enjoy life.
Work is not about waking up in the morning at six, leaving home at seven, getting in an office in Port-Louis at nine and having to work overtime (more or less) everyday because one is not productive enough. This is a recipe for catastrophe and frustration (which sometime characterises our society.)
According to me, work is loving what you do and finding it easy. Work is also about getting home early to have time to play with your kids. Work, finally, is also about being good enough for your boss (yourself in case you are self-employed like me) to pay you a nice salary.
And it so happens that a lot of parents don’t know that. This is where things need to change if we want our society to evolve.
Taking tuitions seven days a week and focussing 100% on succeeding at exams is also a bad strategy. Sure, it creates a scholarship holder or a laureate but I’m afraid a lot of them lack creativity (because they were imposed so many constraints over so many years.) The problem is that, according to the World Economic Forum, organisers of the Davos forum, Mauritius has an “educational system [which] gets mediocre marks for quality” and the country will have a lot of problems to transition to an innovation-driven economy due to a lack of people who can innovate.
Let’s hope they are wrong. But, I’ll be frank, I think they are right.