GIS – 24 November 2015: ‘Promoting educational equality is perhaps one of the most forceful instruments to overcome economic and social inequality’, said the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research, Mrs Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, yesterday at the Octave Wiehe Auditorium, in Réduit.
The Minister was speaking at the launching of a two-day ZEP (zones d'éducation prioritaires) II Programme induction workshop for Zep School Educators. The aim is to enable participants understand the ‘brain-based approach’, which is expected to help the ZEP schools better grasp the underlying issues and help them work towards achieving the ZEP mission of Breaking the cycles of poverty through Education.
In her address, the Minister stated that it is known that there exists a close correlation between education and poverty. Family income, she highlighted, is one of the strongest predictors available for measuring success, both in the classroom and, later, in life.
For Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun, there is a pressing need to give ZEP schools’ pupils the motivational drive to perform better and aim higher. ‘We need then to work even harder to pay more focused educational attention to those children coming from families living close to or under the poverty flooring’, she pointed out. From a policy perspective, the Minister also observed that her Ministry is spearheading a number of measures that will improve the life chances of all learners, irrespective of their socio-economic status.
It is recalled that Head Masters and Deputy Head Masters of ZEP schools attended a similar workshop in August 2015.
The workshop came up as a response to a number of questions related to the issue of poverty and learning correlation. The questions included: What are the effects of poverty on educational outcomes? Can poverty hinder learning? How can we provide better support to Educators for effective teaching and learning in poverty areas? and, How do we build effective leadership in schools and classes?
Zones d'éducation prioritaires
There are 27 ZEP schools located in the four education zones of Mauritius. The ZEP concept defines the school within its environment and aims at mobilising all the resources within the zone to contribute in raising the standard of achievement of the school. The ZEP approach allows for flexibility and greater autonomy for completing the cycles of learning as the curriculum is not time-bound.
Moreover, the philosophy of the ZEP is based on the premise that positive reinforcement is required to create favourable learning conditions for children living mostly in the less developed regions. This approach aims to reduce school inequalities and, in a broader perspective, to combat social inequalities by providing equal opportunities to all primary school children. As an inclusive strategy, the ZEP concept aims at improving the school standards within a medium-term period in order to obtain tangible results.