Pupil behaviour vs Performance

…A Reflection the 2022 NSSC O/AS Results


By David Masiziani

FOLLOWING the release of the 2022 NSSC O/AS results; analysts and sympathisers seem to agree that there were flops in the phasing-in process of the new curriculum, such as lack of training for teachers, leading to their unpreparedness to embrace it, consequently failing the pupils.

Though this is true, as a teacher, I believe we should be dynamic and be able to embrace change. I state unapologetically that it would be unprofessional for a teacher to claim to be unprepared for something that is the level of the pupils. Yes, I admit that for unqualified teachers, it could be a challenge. But, educators must do research to up the standard every time.

Having said this, I would like to take a different glance at the NSSC O/AS results, and discuss what in my opinion, is the chief cause for high failure in schools. Conduct is a vital key to the success of any organisation, thus every organisation will have a code of conduct; a means by which stakeholders are governed.

The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture has codes of conduct for its entire staff, including its pupils. However, the question is whether or not the code of conduct for learners in particular is aiding the teaching and learning process.

The concept of conduct here covers the behaviour of the pupil towards his education. From the onset, I make a claim that the 2022 NSSC O/AS results are a true reflection, not of the pupils’ capabilities, but that of their conduct.

I know quite well, that there are many aspects to consider when analysing results, and this is precisely the reason I would narrow my analysis to pupil behaviour, for now. Please, Namibia, it is unreasonable to expect pupils that do not behave accordingly towards teachers and or parents to do well, because, they do not basically listen.

This generation’s focus is on appearance, looking good before friends at school and on social media; the discipline or sense of responsibility towards education and the future is somewhat lacking.

The day after the release of the results, a colleague said to me, “these results are a true reflection of the behaviour of the children we have.”

He further assumed that the pupils seem to have no role models, in the sense that recent graduates they are supposed to look up to are in the streets, and that those who seem to have not gone to tertiary institutions seem to even do better in their eyes.

Mr. Cornelius made this a strong argument why learners do not take school serious; they perhaps do not see where an education will take them. I totally agree; in fact, pupils have the courage to say that they only go to school because their parents want them to. And, if you ask many teachers concerning the 2022 NSSC O/AS results, they will testify that such disgusting results were not a surprise at all!

Here, are some real issues that happen in majority of classes; if not across the country, then in the Coastal town/s where I teach. These are issues that teachers are aware of from day one, but can’t do anything about. Consider this scenario: a teacher walks into a classroom of 40-45 pupils, ready to teach. He has two encounters; half the class openly disrespects him and does not do what he says, and another half seems to listen out of their respect for him, but they too end up sleeping during the entire lesson, simply because they have no interest at all in what he/she says.

The teacher spends the period attempting to motivate the latter, calling them to concentrate and also tries to put the former in order. Eventually, the period is over, and off he/she goes to the next class, where the difference is the same. In the end, teaching and learning does not take place that day, the next days, weeks, and months.

Pupil behaviour seems to be overlooked, but, in the recent discussions on Talk of the Nation, Dr. Marius Kudumo shared sentiments in this regard, highlighting that pupil and teacher behaviour was another complex issue as far as results were concerned. In my 13 years of teaching, I have seen teachers resign because they could not cope with pupil misbehaviour; others have ended up fighting the pupils physically.

Those who bear with pupil misbehaviours must have a big heart; but they hardly achieve their goal, for teaching and learning is not one way traffic; it requires effort from the teacher, and much more effort from the pupils. Those who follow print media will remember that early in 2022, a local newspaper interviewed Mr. G. Simataa, Kuisebmund Primary school principal, about the unruly behaviours his primary school was seeing. He articulated that misbehaviour was indeed a problem, and that there was not much from a leadership point of view to do to cub the ever deteriorating situation; he narrated that calling in parents to resolve issues ended up in them (parents) pointing out that they too were tired of their own children.

One of the reasons why colonial education may have been progressive was that pupils were kept in check via the ‘stick.’ I do not favour corporal punishment, but considering the current trend in pupil behaviour, it is clear that the total removal of it, and perhaps the policies that were put in its place, if any, are weak and insufficient, and are not aiding the teaching and learning process.

Take private schools, for example, both the enrolled pupil and his parents know from day one, that if he misbehaves, he is out of the system. This makes both pupil and parents take things serious, mostly the parents because they spend a lot of money.

Of course some commentators will talk about public schools that perform well, likening them to many others that do not. It is possible, yes, but, the reality about most public schools that perform well is that they do a selection during their enrolment. They select and enrol better performing pupils; some schools even subject pupils to some written placement tests.

Based on this, the issue of ranking schools does not then portray equity! Some educational analysts and law makers have no experiences of what happens inside the classrooms, so, I understand why they think teachers are to blame.

A proverb says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Not to imply that the teacher goes to class only when the pupil is ready; more than that, when there is a willingness in a pupil’s attitude to learn, it brings out the best in a teacher.

Teachers are not robots, we perform better when we deal with pupils that show interest in what we do, pupils that respect us. The saying, you can lead a horse to water, but can’t make it drink is very real in this regard.

Finally, I have an appeal to the pupils: we (teachers) are there for you, to help you; just show us a little bit of willingness to learn, do your part, your results will speak for you. Fellow teachers, do not be disheartened, let us continue to do our job right.

May God help this generation, God bless Namibia!