Wow! Calm down! I know I’ve just touched a very soft spot and you are already checking for your critic ammunition and preparing to attack. You’re probably wondering what on earth I’m thinking by babbling such unspeakable words.
With the current shift in the Kenyan education system which has seen the scrapping of ranking in national exams, it would be far-fetched for a young man to wish to take Kenya back to the old times when ranking made top students perform better and students at the bottom to fail more. However, endeavor to give me a chance to explain myself, folks.
I am a firm believer of ranking. I know if there was no ranking, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Ranking gives me the motivation to satisfy my inner need to be recognized as a successful person.
Ranking disorients me from my comfort zone, alarms my focus and puts me back in the race for excellence. Nevertheless, we don’t all share in this perception. In fact, more than three-quarters of people don’t understand the benefits of ranking.
A little bit of throw back
Back in primary school, I remember how I used to get my report card and run home to show my parents my position. Back then I didn’t know the importance of education. All I knew was how wonderful it felt to be position one.
Ranking kept me on my toes because I wouldn’t withstand the stigma that came with being a failure. Nevertheless, I also noted the toil that ranking bestowed on none-performers. It really demotivated them and consequently, 90 percent never improved.
So why do I still believe ranking is good? Well, it has one major advantage that dissolves its main con (stigma) which by the way I have a solution for. Ranking induces competition among students. Humans have an insatiable desire to be recognized, appreciated and for this reason, they delve into competitions to safeguard their egos.
When you see yourself in the bottom 20 percent of the class, you get the burning sensation to perform better and consequently, you put extra effort in your studies. Now, this is the spirit required to make Kenyan university graduates better professionals.
Excess campus freedom
One major disadvantage of university life is having excess freedom which is a blessing in disguise. Students have excessive free-will that most end up getting wasted while others fail to maximize their full potential. This freedom should be challenged especially in academics. Before you start gnashing your teeth, reason using the parent attitude. Parents want their children to enjoy the freedom and live full lives but they don’t allow them to do so in ways that are their undoing.
University gives us a lot of freedom and the fact that it does not practice ranking, it gives comrades the freedom to fail. Most students settle for mediocre performance because nobody knows or cares about it and neither are they aware of their colleagues’ performances. If these students at least had some information about their performance in comparison to other students they will definitely be motivated to leave their comfort zones.
If we say young adults should be motivated by self-drive to perform better, then we are ignoring the human weakness in pursuit of success. We dream a lot about greatness yet we fail to put effort to achieve our dreams. So, besides self-motivation which is obviously more fundamental, we need an external motivation factor and in this case, it’s ranking.
So what ranking system will be effective?
A good ranking system for university students should have the following three characteristics to be rendered effective. First, it should induce competition among all students. Secondly, it should not create a state of stigmatization for non-performers. Lastly, it should reward students who exemplify excellence and a great improvement. So, a ranking system of these three attributes will have these conditions
- It should be made private for each student
- Top 20 % of students should be recognized
- Top 10 % of the students and those that show improvement should be rewarded
With such a system, a perfect condition for healthy performance among students will be generated. The best will be rewarded, the top will be recognized, the rest will be motivated to work hard and the students at the bottom will not be demoralized. Those who performed badly in one exam will be challenged to work hard and improve in the next exam without others looking down upon them.
Well, I hope you at least see some sense from my point of view. If discreet ranking can be introduced in colleges and universities, comrades will be motivated to read harder and consequently, Kenya will produce more qualified graduates who will use their advanced skills and knowledge to better the nation.
So what do you think?