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Mauritius focuses on 21stC competences and holistic education



The Republic of Mauritius provides for a full cycle of 11 years of free compulsory schooling with open access for all children aged between 5 to 16 years. In line with UNESCO's Position Paper on Education Post-2015, Mauritius introduced a National Curriculum Framework (NCF) in 2015 setting out what all learners aged 5 to 14/15 should learn in and out of school over Nine Year Continuous Basic Education (NYCBE) covering pre-primary, primary, and lower secondary levels, and special education needs.

Guided by Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, the overarching goal of the NCF and the NYCBE is not just compulsory schooling but, also, quality learning in and out of school. It builds on existing good practices as well as prevents unnecessary duplication of effort and resources.  It is organized in three curriculum stages, each of which represents a block of three years: Foundation Stage (Grades 1, 2 & 3), the Consolidation Stage (Grades 4, 5 & 6), and the Orientation Stage (Grades 7, 8, & 9).

Ninety-five percent of children in Mauritius already have access to pre-primary education. Nevertheless, not all children have equal opportunities for quality pre-primary education. The Foundation Stage curriculum aims to bridge the gap between pre-primary and primary levels, laying a firm grounding for primary education. Primary School Readiness (PSR) guidance provides educators with the tools and instruments to measure each pupil’s school preparedness to start learning successfully by identifying their strengths and weaknesses and adapting teaching accordingly. Similarly, Secondary School Readiness (SSR) guidance provides secondary school educators with a tool to measure the skills and competences of those who may be experiencing learning difficulties after 6 years of primary schooling. A flexible extended program allows Grade 6 pupils with learning difficulties to complete their lower secondary education over four years rather than three. The progress of these pupils is closely monitored and they may be oriented towards more appropriate post 9 year education, which includes vocational options.

The NCF lays the foundation for 21st century teaching, learning and assessment and forms the basis for a new vision for education. It sets the direction for 21stC learning, by aiming to ensure that schools help all learners to realize their potential and become confident lifelong learners and responsible adult citizens. It aims to establish the foundation for the development of human capital in Mauritius, higher sustainable economic prosperity and greater social justice. It highlights the development of 21st Century Competences that reinforce the holistic education offered by the curriculum. The aspiration is to enable young people to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to thrive in a 21st century world, characterized by globalization, innovation and advances in science and technology.

It is intended that these competences will empower young people to seize the countless opportunities of the modern world.  For example, the use of ICT is central to the NCF, to help learners acquire the skills needed to operate in a complex, highly technological and information-based economy. The provision of digital interactive materials and classroom infrastructure for ICT is part of the major changes in the first 6 years of schooling, to enable all learners to have the opportunity to become competent and creative users of ICT. The curriculum also places emphasis on Education for Sustainable Development, by incorporating key themes such as poverty alleviation, human rights, health, environmental protection, and climate change. It also recognizes the importance of imparting life-skills to young people and to consolidate personal and social skills of all learners. All documents can be accessed at www.mie.ac.mu.  
Dr O. Nath Varma, Director, Mauritius Institute of Education director@mie.ac.mu.