Teacher perceptions of the impact of public examinations on curriculum practices : a survey in two districts of Kigali-City, Rwanda.
This study is an exploratory investigation on teachers' perceptions of the extent to which the national examinations that are written at the end of primary schooling in Rwanda influence their curriculum practices. The study used a structured questionnaire for data collection, and simple descriptive statistics for data analysis. The study, firstly, examined teachers' views on the link between national examinations and the aims of primary education. The results showed that teachers perceived the national examinations as assessing the prerequisite knowledge for secondary education, on one hand; and to some extent social skills needed for life in the community and society. This is in line with the aim of primary education in Rwanda according to government policy. Secondly, the study explored the impact of the national examinations on teachers' practices as well as on teacher self image. Findings were that a good success rate in these examinations was the main goal-direction for teachers and had a major influence on the curriculum practices. Most teachers indicated that they aimed to produce a large number of candidates who were classified highly on national scale, and were socially well skilled. The impact of the national examination on their practices is evident in some of the strategies they use in negotiating and mediating the curriculum: the focus on the main examination subjects, on the previous examination topics, and on academically good and borderline students who have a greater chance of scoring high grades in the national examination. Finally, the study explored factors that teachers perceived to influence candidates' success and failure in the national examinations. Teacher commitment to preparing candidates for the examinations was most frequently reported, as a factor associated with student success, whereas the very limited places I available in pubic and subsidized secondary schools was the most contributing factor to poor results.