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Grade 7 and 9 Cut off Point System is a Tragedy, a Crime Against Children-Laura Miti


Human Rights activist Laura Miti is opposed to the current system of setting cut off points for Grade seven and Grade Nine.

Ms. Miti said the cut off mark system is tragedy and robs children from under privileged background access to education.

In a series of Tweets, Ms. Miti appealed to education authorities to consider scrapping off the cutoff point system.

“So a child sitting 120 in a class in a broken school must attain the same mark as the one attending a well-resourced functional private school in order to get a place in a higher grade. So the poorer children are inordinately disadvantaged,” she wrote.

“53 years of nationhood and we cannot provide a desk, chair and teacher to every child who passes exams. We use cut-off marks to throw the majority of children out of the education system and somehow do not recognise this as a crime against them,” Ms. Miti remarked.

Laura Miti

She added, “I abhor the cut-off system we have institutionalised in Zambia to determine which children progress to grades 7 and 10. It is an abuse of children’s rights to education because it is based on available places not on passing of the exam.”

“As things stand, Ministry of Education statistics tell us that only just over 30% of kids who enter grade 1 make it to grade 12 simply coz we have no places. No guesses who is making it through to grade 12 – when was the last time you heard if a mayadi child (child from rich child) who stopped school in Grade 7?”

She said, “Overall, I would like us to manage our resources so that we can abolish Grade 7 and 9 Exams as selections based on places.
Every child who enters Grade 1 should make it to Grade 12 repeating only if they are academically unable to cope with material in next grade,” she said

“I also think that rather than have a mark differential that favours girls over boys, we should have one that favours disadvantaged schools over private. Why should a girl from Lake Road have a lower pass cut-off point than the boy at Chawama?”

She further wrote, “As a country, we have agreed with ourselves to educationally punish children for being poor. No I am not suggesting fancy gadgets and swimming pools at Kanyama Primary. Just 40 to a class, books, trained dedicated teacher everyday so the exam is not an exercise in educational apartheid”

“Simple fact is a Kanyama primary Gr 7 child who manages 700 marks has to be super gifted and studious. But they won’t get a place at St Mary’s (forget the fees for a moment) or a scholarship to Mpelembe because it goes to a much less naturally gifted Nkhwazi primary child with 800,” she tweeted.

[Read 4,884 times, 5 reads today]


  1. Nash Equilibrium
    She has logic. Worth mulling over by those in the ministry of education. But I am sure the answer to her concerns is likely to be that government is already building schools across the country, alongside a continued recruitment of teachers blablabla.
    • Mushota
      I don’t like her but I agree with her. In the uk we don’t have that rubbish. Each university base the entry to their respective school students based on applicants. Assessment is their prerogative Thanks BB2014,2016
    • Negwebu
      What a load of shet! Pupils write exams to pass and be able to progress into the next stage, so you take a failure to the next stage? How do you expect such pupils to cope with lessons in the next stage? Here in Africa? Really?
    • Wanzelu
      Well said Laura. Education system in Zambia is what President Trump would rightly call a rigged system. Just look at how kids in Southern and Western provinces would not get a grade 10 place after scoring 400 points while those in Lusaka , Central and CB just need 360 points to proceed to grade 10. PF has even made it worse for school leavers. Kids with 13 points from Southern Northwestern and Southern are denied government bursaries because they are likely to be supporting UPND. This is evil of the worst kind! Lungu will pay heavily for this. UPND is the only way forward.
    • Miya
      Mushota. In RSA you can't proceed to the next grade if you do not meet the minimum qualifying points. Are you sure we do not need cut off points. Are you telling me that even those who do not write exams should proceed to grade 8 and 10?. Come on guys that's being too rhetoric and cheap.
  2. Inonge Wina
    Laura Miti, I disagree with you on this one. Education is delicate please don't mess it up with your wrong ideas. Already, our education system is not appreciated around the world and you still want people with no capacity to understand what is being taught to be proceeding to higher grades? What you need to know is that, it's useless for example to allow a person with very low grades to proceed to University and study Engineering or Medicine because they don't have the capacity and pre-university knowledge required to understand what is being taught. equally, you can't allow a person who can't read to proceed to grade eight. what are they going to be learning in grade eight? you need to know how to read for you to study.
    • Bululu
      You have missed the point. She writes that repeating should be the option for those who cannot cope. I don't know where you get the notion that our education system is not appreciated in the world. For Zambian to enter UK college/university you need O levels where as our neighbours across the Zambezi need 'A' levels. Laura has a valid point in finding a different criteria other than cut-off point. Find out from those who go to UNZA or CBU, children who come from schools like Chizongwe, Chiwala, Soltech (Tuff life), almost 100% complete with minimal effort, but ask those from so called better schools, they don't go past the first year.
    • Inonge Wina
      Bululu. You're asking me to find out from those who go to UNZA or CBU when I was there myself? Repeating has always been allowed in Zambian schools. I don't know maybe now it's not allowed. She seems to be suggesting that cut-off pints should be abolished so that disadvantaged pupils can go through from grade 1 to 12 without ever being subjected to cut-off points. The cut-off points are meant to give an estimate of the knowledge that pupils have accumulated and qualifying them to handle minimum school work given to them by teachers at secondary school. The same people you say come from Chizongwe and Chiwala were subjected to cut-off points before UNZA/CBU.
    • Napapa Sana
      @Bululu, did you genuinely go to UNZA/CBU? and later on graduate genuinely? If you did, I cannot understand how you can fail to grasp and address the first argument Laura puts forward, an argument which she has brought out through and through (Off course you are at Liberty to choose what you respond to). Much of Laura's argument focusses on how cute-off mark system disadvantages children from poor schools. A child from a poor school who gets 700 marks at grade is close to a genius, but considered a failure at well-resourced schools like lake Road. Yes, as you say, Cut-off mark is good for an "estimate of knowledge", BUT a general cut-off mark disadvantages children from poor schools. You should have addressed this key argument of Laura, not those issues of "our education system is not...
    • Chilankalipa
      @Inonge Wina, I think her main point is that cut-off points are determined by availability of places, not on accumulated knowledge. Hence the cut-off point is not uniform across the country. So a child who gets 700 points in Luapula Province will proceed to Grade 8, while his friend who gets 720 marks in Lusaka Province cannot proceed to Grade 8. Both wrote the same examination. But because of availability of places, the child in Luapula needs to “know less” to get to Grade 8, while the child in Lusaka has to “know more”. The system as it is right now is designed to “cut-off” a large number of children from proceeding with their education. If there are only 100 places in a school, and 1000 pupils are competing for those places, it doesn’t matter how much knowledge those children have...
    • Napapa Sana
      @Bululu, I am very sorry. My comment above is for Inonge Wina. @Bululu, I agree with your points in your earlier posts.
    • Inonge Wina
      Napapa Sana and Chilankalipa. You act as if you're very foreign to the system. Cut-off points are not the same around Zambia, at provincial level or even district level. They're different depending on location and requirements of the admitting school. In nearly every country, there are schools which require very high grades to get in. During ZCCM days Mpelembe secondary school used to accept pupils mostly from mining towns who did very well but why do you think others were not getting in despite coming from similar backgrounds? It's because some people may not be as gifted as others and some people are just lazy. @ Napapa Sana. yes I went to University and completed very well and I still think cut-off points are good.
    • Inonge Wina
      Don't take me wrong. I've in most cases seen Laura Miti as a genuine activist who's work I've always admired but I think she's wrong on this one. Which Education system in the world does not have pass marks? In the article, she later says "Every child who enters Grade 1 should make it to Grade 12 repeating only if they are academically unable to cope with material in next grade". Isn't that why there're cut-off points so that we know who can cope with material in the next grade? Isn't she contradicting herself? look guys let's not encourage laziness. There're lots of people who've come from the so called poor schools who've gone to university and lots of people from good schools who've failed to even go to a college.
    • Yuma
      If Laura can't find a Zambian man to marry after 53 years of independence and she is married to a muzungu why does it surprise her that Zambia is still dropping off some pupils at Grades 7&9. Zambia is a developing nation and still does not have the capacity to accommodate all pupils.
    • Chilufya
      Keep the comments on the issue not on the person. There is truth in her article. What can Zambians you and I do to help. Let us brainstorm.
    • Zambia@53
      If Laura was a socialist she wouldn't have made such senseless tweets. Socialism would not produce a privileged class as was the case under the UNIP government. A cutoff point is a good thing and should continue but what we need to change what we do with those that fail to attain the cutoff point. There are a lot of options to avail those that fail and because nature has not gifted us the same way.
    • Dm
      This intelligent woman is not only a socialist but she is also a social reformer. She is good socialist because she has social analytical facts.
  3. Clifford Bwalya
    Awe don't agree with Laura. You can't allow someone who doesn't know how to read to proceed to secondary. Nomba how will they write their grade nine and grade twelve history essay if mu mutwe wabo mwafula fye ama series yaku Zee World and Telemundo?
  4. changeweneed UPND
    This is really about the haves and the have nots! The world over 'passing' or 'failing' is set at a certain percentage or mark. Indeed the 'cutoff' point was meant to enable a certain number of persons to proceed to the 'few' places available. What I read in this post is can a child in chawama attain the cutoff point as a child in Kabulonga? This can be a yes and no. However she is saying even if the child from cha is selected to Mpelembe or St Marys the fees 'eliminate' that child from proceeding. The same applies for university education with Unilas etc. placing fees very high. Well LMB get practically you benefitted from a good education albeit you are not from cha but ku; source funds set up a bursary and save the few you can.
  5. Zambian Citizen
    I think the whole educational system needs realigning. Govt. simply needs to pump in serious funds to enable less priviledged children attend a proper school. If a child in Rufunsa can attend a school with standard learning materials, library, computer lab and a motivated teaching staff, that child will compete with any child in a private school. But you can't do away with the cut-off system as this promotes meritocracy. What needs to be added though is a better and effective vocational system (with a cut-off system as well!) that will filter less academically inclined children into trades with emphasis on natural resources available in the country.
  6. Fred Nkhuwa
    She has brought a valid point but her direction is misguided and lacks moral judgement. Every exam must have a cut off mark, a separation/distinction , a meter level of progress or not. If you remove a measuring tool which is critical how do you then measure the performance of a pupil, performance of teachers, performance of a school, district and as a nation? This cut off mark is very critical not only in schools, but is also used in companies during interviews for a company to select a right candidate. For one to qualify to another level, they have to show their capabilities that they can do. Cut off point is not meant to make one not to progress further, such thoughts are evil, destructive and rob future generations of critical thinking approach and hard work . I deem such a...
    • Timbwi
      In short, the Ministry of Education should also be able to grade schools according to the educational standards so that they come up with measures to deal with schools that consistently fail to meet the average requirement. This means having different cut-off points for schools in a certain category in order not to disadvantage the children in such areas.
  7. FDD FOR 2021
    When you say 'Every child who enters Grade 1 should make it to Grade 12 repeating only if they are academically unable to cope with material in next grade,” she said' this is why there should be those cut offs to select who is able and who is not. being from kwa does not disadvantage anyone except for lack of teaching materials and teachers themselves. Private schools have always been there and alot of times pupils from these government schools turn out better than the spoon fed private school chaps in the long run. The call should be to equip all government schools country wide with proper infrastructure, materials and manpower and possibly start offering free meals to pupils because many of them especially in rural areas drop out because of hunger/poverty.
  8. Chilufya
    Great work on the article. The point is we need to improve the education system. The start should begin with dedicated teachers. However, teachers motivated to enjoy their work and our extra effort. For a motivated and dedicated teacher will in turn motivate students.
  9. Umwina Nkana
    Wow great points there. I went to UNZA with 11 points in my best 5 subjects from Chamboli and we had some with 6 points from better schools. But there was one 'poor' boy from a rural school who came with about 15 points in 5 subjects (if my memory serves me right). This rural boy was academically gifted and emerged the best in our class and went on to be lecturer at UNZA! So I agree with Laura here that we must have another criteria to test academic proficiency!
  10. Amagenge
    Laura's arguement are logical but not factual. The question is why cut off point?. It is as a result of fewer places as one goes up. At grade seven in 9 provinces the schools achieved 100% pass (transition rate). By the way for Grades any child who sits for examinations passes. The results are graded as 1 - 4. There is no Fail. For example all the grade sevens in 9 provinces except Lusaka can find places in grade 8. In some provinces the number of grade 8 places is more than the pupils who sat for grade 7. Laura makes an assumption that those who go to high cost private schools do well than those in Chawama, Mwinilunga. Please go to the British International school where children of Apams go. Compare their first grade 7 results (this year) with those of Kabulonga Basic which caterd...
  11. Tione
    Walasa Laura apa. Worse still they abolished grade nine classes at basic schools so that grade 8 places became even fewer. What kind of thinking is this?
  12. mbaluso
    I thought Laura has points which need to be digested by people entrusted to run our education system.Most of well gifted children end up on the disadvantage position because of insufficient resources they are subjected to.Teacher-to-pupil ratio in most community schools is so pathetic.This is compounded with luck of academic materials.A child from a private school will have all the necessary material to pass and go beyond the so called cut-off point.There is a great discrepancy in the provision of education in private and community schools.Children should not fail to attain better education owing to poverty they are subjected to.Education,just like food,is a right which should not have strings attached to it.
  13. Kudzai
    The Education system in rural areas will never change as long as teaching and learning materials remain inadequate. Getting rid of the cut off point will only increase laziness in learner's especially those from rural areas. Already 2/10 learners from rural areas believe in education this is due to lack of motivation mostly from parents. You will realize that parents from mayadi motivate or rather push there children to attend school whether its government or private. For those in rural parents would prefer there child becomes a tamanga so that he or she provides at home. This is one of the Greatest challenges teachers in rural areas face. What we need is increasing better learning facilities and not getting rid Grade 7 and 9 exams
  14. scrutinizerer
    ...brilliant school of thought Laura...I applaud u. Please consider another write up were you should come up with 2 or 3 suggestions on how we can address this obvious 'criminal act on unprivileged children'...and I would have loved to see those of us agreeing with you post suggestions as well...
  15. Inonge Wina
    A factor that she left out which in my opinion is the most critical is people failing to go to school because of money for school fees and other school requirements such as shoes, books, Uniforms, study materials etc. I think that's the most critical part. Those of us who've gone to our villages know what we're talking about. I have been visiting my village since I was very young and made some friends there. I found out that most of my peers ended up not going to secondary school because it was seen by their parents as a waste of resources since they had to look for money in order to attend secondary school. This was especially true back in the day when there wasn't so many secondary schools.
    • Muchimba
      Inonge pls go through the article again, on this one Laura is spot on and I wish this Govt can adapt such a system. These are the ideas we need ladies and gentlemen.
    • Meimatungu
      Laura is addressing herself to a particular issue, namely: "Grade 7 and 9 Cut off Point System," and not to every related issue. Your expansion to look at a related issues is appreciated. However, you seem to construe, that because Laura has not "looked" at those other issues, certainly dear to you, then she is not making a valid point. You are wrong.
  16. Ndanje khakis
    I came from an underprivileged family but I had higher marks both at grade 7 and 9 than those who came from rich families.
  17. Christianhood messiah party
    Shall revolutionised education.Every child shall have survival skill be4 leaving school to be done in 8&9 grades
  18. Nine Chale
    Her arguments make sense and must be taken serious by educational officials in the country. It should also bring into debate the issue of scholarships and bursaries and how they are granted because primarily, this is the best way of rewarding hard-working students from underpreviliged famillies.
    • Muchimba
      Yes she is spot on and I think the powers that be should engage her, oh how I wish they would because it is a brilliant idea and I also like your idea of bursaries and scholarships. Brilliant
  19. Dm
    I applaud you laura, you need to be in the education sector because you have knowledge of an educational reformer and sociological analysis. Such people should be embraced and work with them to come up with solutions to educational problems, some pupils are named backward learners not because they have psychological problems its because the resources are not available in their schools, if exposed to good learning materials they can prosper,so please the (MOE) should not only side with those children from good schools but they need to take a close look at those empoverished children.
  20. Kopper teacher
    The cut off point should be 50% pass. Then grade secondary schools into distinction ,Credit,Merit and pass schools. Basically those get less than 50% should repeat.
  21. Ground Zero
    ati human rights activist? really? my ass! This bespectacled communist ho had nothing nice to say even when we had a relatively decent government in place, the Mwanawasa administration. Her weekly Post newspaper column had nothing but vitriolic discharge every single week. I recall when Mwanawasa was advising the rural masses not to have children carelessly when they couldn't afford to give them a decent upbringing. As expected,this chick exploded with her usual brainless spiteful, venomous crap. These donor funded unproductive folk can kiss where the sun don't shine. nichizundu chabe, no contribution to the real GDP
  22. Meimatungu
    If only we could learn how to think! Our president, Jonathan Edgar Lungu, is a drinker, not a thinker. He dances to the tune of any music, even that which would make old KK cry.
  23. Harold Muna
    I don't understand how some bloggers cannot get Laura's point. Basing a system on cut-off points due to a lack of places means you are throwing so many intelligent pupils out into the cold. It is arbitrary, not based on testing knowledge, intelligence or entrepreneurship. You should have a system that is able to absolve a lot more of those children or guide them into something they are good in. At least even 85% should be facilitated to complete secondary school. As long as you are providing quality education, to as many as possible, it is an investment. It is only wrong when you provide shoddy worthless education or skills. Education should not be a drawn out competition to select 'the fittest few', it should aim to realize the varying potentials in as many.
  24. Chigo
    I agree with her. Its time we stop some of these colonial practices. We should also abolish the English pass as requirement for full certificate. We are disadvantaging our own people based on colonial practice. I have seen people leaving and working in USA who speak zero English.
  25. Kabwe
    Her rhetoric does not direct to any sustainable solution.No one commits a crime on the children for setting up a cut off point for grade 7 and 9 exams or any exam.This is so because many factors contribute to failure to reach the cut off.Many pupils from poor locations have done better than those from kumayadi in exams because while poverty is a factor other factors such as focus or seriousness, genetic disposion and environment, to mention but a few play a part.Most people in so called kumayadi came from poor back grounds but had to set themselves free from the shuckles of poverty but beating the cut off points and become professionals.Poverty is being escalated because any one who feels like and even those who did not plan for it can have children in Zambia.We have so many disadvantaged...
  26. citizen
    In every education system, there is and there should always be a cut off point. It sets the standard, you cannot know how much you need to improve or how better or worse off you are if you cannot measure something. To put it differently, life is a fight, there will always be winning and losing. Remember that!

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