Monday 1 March 2021
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The IGSCE/HIGSCE debate at St Boniface

Every time the Grade 12 examination results are released, St. Boniface College, located in north-eastern Namibia, has good reason to celebrate.
Almost all learners qualify with exceptional performances and the school continues to top the national school charts on an annual basis.
But amidst the celebrations, one topic that continues to gain momentum: why do most learners at the school write the Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate on ordinary level and not on higher level.
The Patriot spoke to the school’s principal, Mary Phillis Yesudasan about the longstanding preference by learners to take subjects on ordinary level.

“Over 50% of our learners choose to write their grade 12 examinations on ordinary level (IGCSE), however this does not disadvantage them in any way,” defended Yesudasan.
The principal refuted claims that the school does not offer subjects on higher level (HIGCSE) and added that the preferred choice of subjects by their learners does not negatively affect their prospects when it comes to tertiary level.
Yesudasan said products of the school continue to do well at tertiary level as well as in their professional careers.

She listed Nampower, Namwater, Namdeb, Deloitte and PwC, to mention a few, as some of the public and private entities where former learners hold key positions in Namibia.
Yesudasan credits the success of former students on the culture of discipline cultivated by the school as well as the motivation of the learners to excel.
She emphasized that “from day one, planning for the calendar year and setting realistic goals to complete subjects early enough and provide learners with ample time to do revision and prepare for examinations”. This, she adds, is vital regardless of the level of examination preferred by learners.

The Patriot asked how the school facilitates a balance between the learner’s intelligent quotient (IQ) and emotional quotient (EQ)growth and the principal pointed out that it is easy to assume that the school places more emphasise on IQ instead of EQ given its high performing record.
“We run the school as a family, just like any household, it is important to instil discipline while still taking care of the children’s social and emotional needs” said Yesudasan. She further quoted Karl Marx that “the end justifies the means”, supporting that to date the learners continue to perform well both at school and in society thus demonstrating that the school has a healthy system in place that aims to advantage the learners mainly. According to Yesudasan, former learners continue to call the school and thank her for instilling a culture of discipline even if people might think she runs the school like a military camp.
Former learner, Steven Haingura told The Patriot that he matriculated from the school in 2010 and predominantly wrote HIGCSE subjects.
Haingura explained that because the school intake is usually from grade 8 only, the school system can profile which learners are competent enough to take IGCSE or HIGCSE exam.
As such it is at the discretion of the teaching staff to place learners accordingly.

Haingura said the issue of balancing EQ and IQ is rather personal because it depends on the personality of the learner as well as their home environment.
“I personally did not experience difficulties with balancing my social and academic life because when I am not at school, my home environment is very social. At the same time I went to UNAM for a year before moving to Cape Town, so that helped me to navigate any EQ related challenges that others may have struggled with,” he said.
Haingura holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Financial Accounting qualification obtained from the University of Cape Town.

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