The South African education system needs to redouble its efforts to implement a model of continuous assessment education for school and college students. Despite great curriculum advice, assessment guidelines, and the best of intentions, it’s still not enough. It is time for tech detractors to join in the solutions designed to address our most pressing education crisis.
Continuous assessment as a learning methodology is celebrated around the world to enable students to constantly engage with their learning materials and be tested on all aspects of the job instead of being tested one-on-one. or twice a year.
This is the approach that the National Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement for grades R to 12, as it constitutes the basis of their future studies.
Continuous assessment is much more effective from a learning point of view and students leave with a better overall knowledge and a critical understanding of the subject at hand.
The theory is sound, but the reality is much different in a country with so many underfunded and overcrowded schools. Some of the larger and better funded schools are able to successfully assess students on an ongoing basis, but what is the solution for the others? We cannot let students be left behind.
Because of our history and our socio-economic problems, funding and resources for schooling will remain a problem for decades to come. Encouraging underfunded institutions to use continuous evaluation is a controversial issue, as the cost of having on-site evaluations and monitors is high – and therefore can only happen occasionally.
But, with the switch to technology, homework, projects, short tests and quizzes can now be completed on a weekly basis under exam conditions.
Continuous evaluation was only made possible with the introduction of technology. Internationally, schools and institutions use monitoring solutions that allow them to assess students as much as they want.
This is an effective solution as it eliminates the need for on-site testing – students are assessed remotely, but academic integrity remains intact as cheating or collusion is mitigated by monitoring systems.
These international surveillance systems were not developed with emerging countries in mind. As well as being unaffordable for our institutions (at $ 30 per student for each assessment), they also require access to the latest technology and consistent internet access, which a huge proportion of South Africans do not have.
This is what led to the creation of a South African solution, the Monitoring application, which was created with these challenges in mind and is now used successfully by some of South Africa’s largest higher education institutions.
Online education is booming which will only benefit our future economy. Online schools that use monitoring systems to continuously assess students are successfully producing critical thinkers who will easily integrate into life after education in an increasingly digital world.
They move away from parrot learning techniques and ask students to apply the theories in a practical way.
Using technology suited to South Africa’s challenges, such as irregular access to electricity and skyrocketing data costs, is the only way to ensure that a large portion of our students do not are not left behind academically.
Continuous assessment should not be reserved for the privileged. With this technology, schools and universities will have the technology available to support the shift to continuous assessment and engagement with learning materials.
If exams are not monitored, the credibility of these qualifications will be called into question, especially by the workforce, which will affect future employability.
There have been numerous reports of unethical behavior during Covid-19, but technology built by local academics now ensures exam conditions are met.
The move to the Internet makes education accessible to everyone, but the right technology must be used to ensure the integrity of exams. Technology is helping universities move fully online on a permanent basis, not just for Covid-19. This means that universities are no longer constrained by space limitations and can accept more students into their programs.
Being able to accept more students and reducing fixed costs such as hiring premises, printing, physical supervisors, and logistics will make education more affordable and accessible.