BALOB entry test concept is not a waste of time as claimed by Zenki Leng (The National, Jan 19). The writer claims zero transparency in the selection process, questioning the administrative process involved. The selection process is entirely an administrative issue. The ignorance of the writer paints a bad picture of the good efforts of the selection panel that was involved in the selection process. It also nullifies all efforts by the committed staff members who had to spend their free time to administer and mark the test in good faith. No one has hijacked the process nor was any decision made by an individual.
I do agree with Zenki that a considerable number of matriculated students as well as Grade 12 leavers applied in and had a chance to sit the test. The argument that Grade 10s were selected is absurd and baseless. If they have matriculated, they would have met the entry requirements of Balob teachers college and for that matter any teachers college in the country.
It is unfair to discriminate those that left secondary or national high schools from the matriculated ones. In fact the results of the entry test did not show much difference in the two groups. For example, of the 485 Grade 12 leavers who sat, only 18% passed both the maths and language tests. Of the 390 matriculated students, 21% passed. Overall 19% of those who sat the test passed and are considered for enrolment this year.
The truth is whoever met the pass mark requirements they got selected regardless of their ethnicity, educational background or whether or not they were staff relatives. There was only one yard stick for the selection. There was no bias in any form, it was just simply performance based. Had most students passed, it would have required the selection panel to do selections and maybe spread the selections over the regions of the nation. Contrary to the writer’s claim, this is the best and transparent system Balob could do so far to avoid past problems.
Let me just add that upon graduation, it has been observed that it is often those matriculated students particularly from remote areas that serve faithfully in the rural schools. Many grade 12 leavers look for teaching opportunities in cities and towns. Research has to be carried out to ascertain this fact but that seems to be the general view held by many rural communities. This is one reason why they must be given a fair go in our selections systems. The entry test system provides the best avenue for selections without fear or favour.
Balob Teachers College went through a lengthy expensive legal battle last year because of enrolment problems. We had to introduce the entry test because bribery, corruption and nepotism were rife in the past where every person was a “selection officer”.
Middlemen took advantage of the former system and if the results are anything, many unqualified peopled enrolled in the past. This consequently caused severe over enrolment and over crowding in classrooms and dormitories. I believe the current entry test system is the best way to avoid all these and get in the best possible applicants for teacher training.
Deputy principal, academic.
Balob Teacher College