The Relevance of Aptitude Tests in Primary Schools

As a learning resource developer, when asked to come up with a resources of any sort, the first thing that we do these days is to run off to the internet for some inspiration and ideas.

This was the case with the Nigerian Quantitative Aptitude Tests for common entrance exams. After several hours of googling online for just basic information about the ‘quantitative aptitude’ with no  luck, I began to ask myself  “Of what use is quantitative aptitude to the Nigerian child if no other country is interested in it?”

How about reforming some of these things to make them a bit more relevant to the times that our precious little ones are growing in. How about things like numerical reasoning? How about proper diagnostics to know the ability level of each child in the first place? How about tests that involve real life scenarios that will encourage children to think creatively, make decisions and give explanations? This type of aptitude tests that our children are having to deal with are tests usually taken by professionals to see how well they can cope with learning something new quickly and independently.

Okay, if we argue that quantitative aptitude is our thing and we want to keep it, how does it improve the children’s learning? Will it have any impact on work life much later? why? What is the point of the quantitative aptitude tests?

We can live with it if we get some explanations from the Ministry of Education but our suggestion is that exams generally in Nigeria should be reviewed. What skills are we testing? What knowledge are the children demonstrating that they have acquired? Why do they have to have that skill at that level? Where does it lead to? Where is it on their learning ladder? Why is it being thrown at them at the end of primary 6 rather than being slowly built up from primary 1 or 3? What do we do with the results?

So many things need reformation in Nigeria but education should be at the top of our priority list if we hope to experience the change that we so dearly desire. The true solution to our problems lie within us and we have to start acting now so that we can live to experience a positive new generation with a different mindset and approach to life.

Gladys Esue Briggs writes for Maths Junction (The Nigerian Maths Curriculum Online).

 

 

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Giving True Meaning to the Nigerian Children’s Day Celebration

What does ‘Children’s Day’ mean to you? A non uniform day in school? A children’s party at the government house? Another day at home when all children wear new clothes and eat specially cooked rice? A day to have a march past, parade, trophy and selfie with the governor?

It’s great to have a non uniform day in school or  a children’s party… but children’s day should be more. It should be a time when we reflect on children’s rights as stipulated by UNCRC. As practitioner’s, what activities have we got planned to promote the well being of children all through the academic year? As parent’s, how are we working with our children and their schools and other agencies to promote their development and well being? As government, what legislation and policies have we put in place to ensure that children have their rights and entitlements? What provisions have we made to meet children’s entitlements? Have we created enough awareness amongst all parties involved in the care of children about children’s rights?

May 27th is a day in Nigeria when we celebrate children’s day. Our children are rewarded with a day off school. Like Christmas and Easter, we get so carried away by the preparation and celebration that we pay no attention to the true meaning of children’s day, why it is being celebrated and how it should be celebrated. Children’s Day comes from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child. The UNCRC articles 1 – 45 should be a guide for all those involved in the care of children. It gives a clear definition of who ‘a child’ is and stipulates children’s rights including: non-discrimination; freedom of expression; freedom of thought, belief and religion; parental responsibilities and a right to education. The UNCRC  was ratified by Nigeria hence we are under obligation to ensure that our children have these rights.

Article 13 of the UNCRC for example, talks about ‘The right to freedom of expression’. As parents and practitioner’s, how long do we wait for children to finish expressing themselves before they get ‘the shush’ from us? How much access do they have to information (within the law) and how do we enable them to contribute to the decision making process whether at home or in school?

Understandably, we are a country where nobody checks anybody but we can all begin with small steps in our own little areas of responsibility. If parents do their bit, teachers do their bit, schools do their bit and government does it’s bit then we have happy days ahead of us.

As we celebrate children’s day each year, we should remember that the future lies in the hands of children and their well being should take priority if this future is to be secured.

Happy May 27th

Gladys Esue Briggs writes for Maths Junction (The Nigerian Maths Curriculum Online).