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EDUCATION CORNER: The education system and its stages

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with Prof Nyanga

One philosopher said ‘life is full of well set stages, and if one overlaps, they will surely come to it in life’. This simply means that everyone of us must follow the laid down stages of life.

There is a systematic progression of growth from the start point. If one jumps the first step to go to the third step instead of the second, they have to cover up in life, even when they are grown ups.

These are the people you see behaving like a child when their age dictates otherwise. Education is exactly the same with the entire life of the human being. Just like we go through different stages of life, so we do as well with education.

A renown preacher from Zimbabwe, Nyahuma Blessings (2014) told me that, ‘In life there are no short cuts and if they would be there, they would be wrong cuts leading destruction’. Indeed, in education, there are no shortcuts and if one decides to make one, it becomes a wrong one which leads to destruction.

Education has to go with the human mind development from one stage to the other. Those that make shortcuts are the ones we doubt as to whether they are educated or not. Education brings about an inherent and permanent change in a person’s thinking and capacity to do things and it all adds to the stages of life.

In the world, there are so many stages or structures of education and many of them are similar to each other because of knowledge sharing as now there is championing of global village.

There is deliberate move to have one and same education system for the whole world. In many cases, African education system is mostly influenced by the Western world education especially the colonial masters’ (those that colonised African countries)education systems.

Generally, there are four stages/ structures that most countries have and these include; the pre-school stage, primary, secondary and tertiary education stages. These education stages are designed for different age stages of life.

In many countries, the education structure starts with two to four years of preschool education, which, in any case are optional in many instances and it is considered as the first stage of education.

The entrance age for pre-school is two to three years. Seven years of primary education constitute the first or second level of education depending on whether one went preschool or not.

The recommended entrance age for primary education is five to seven years though others may start late or earlier depending on the availability of schools and finances of parents, among many other reasons.

After primary education, the next level of education (second/third stage of education), is secondary education, which takes a duration of four or five years according to the country policy on education.

The entrance age for secondary ranges from 12 years to 15 years. When one is done with secondary education, which is also called Ordinary Level (O- Level) they are now expected to go to the last stage, tertiary education; the education after secondary one.

Depending on the country’s education policies, others might first do Advanced Level (A-Level) of secondary education as preparation for tertiary education or straight away go for tertiary education. In Zambia, both systems work. One is at liberty to do A-level or not to, of course this is according to the kind of study they wish to go into.

The tertiary education has different length period of study from as short as one month (example, driving) to as long as seven years (example medicine). Tertiary education is meant for a livelihood where one is trained earn a skill or expertise so that they can practise what they have learnt for them to earn an income.

At this stage, specialisation is championed and when one completes, they are able to be employed or begin their own businesses as entrepreneurs. Generally, this is the last stage of education.

Progression from one stage to another depends upon breaking over through examination assessment as directed by the government. For example; for a child to move from pre-school to primary school, they must pass/ breakthrough by writing the examination and passing it.

If one does not pass, they repeat the stage though some parents push their children to next stage due to budget constraints and perceived time wasting the end of primary school examination are written at the end of the primary stage, say primary/grade seven (7) if one has to enter tertiary education, which is the third/ four stage of education, they need to have passed the ordinary level at secondary education stage.

This is according to the requirements put across by the institution that one wants to go and study from for tertiary education. This means that not all children are expected to proceed to the next stage of education.

Look out for the next article where we shall discuss the importance of education.

Professor Edgar Nyanga can be contacted on… [email protected]

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