Online enrollment of Form 1s: A good idea that is a bad idea

So as many will know, Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora has decided that for various reasons application for Form 1 places will be done online, and centrally.

Secondary students in class PIC: Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education

A good idea on the surface because it speaks to e-governance (the ministry does its best to make the official website an online repository) and should reduce the amount of corruption in the system. It means individual schools are not messing about with parents and forcing them to jump through unnecessary to make it into schools.

Those are real issues in the education system and many a parent will tell you that getting your child into Grade 1 and Form 1 is the biggest nightmare at the minute. It means even a parent in the diaspora will have the same shot at landing their child a slot in  a preferred school, as one who is best mates with the bursar having bought him a lager when they were at school together in the 80s.

That said, here are a few issues.

True to form, this new idea has just come out of the blues, with not campaign and education. Much like most things in this country, public or private sector, there seems to be no attempt to convince people to agree or even embrace a policy. With no data on access to Internet for these applications to be done, it means early adopters of technology will win. And what about households led by grandmothers who do not use the Internet at all?

Then what if one particular school then gets 50,000 applications and the school right next to it doesn’t. What happens then? Will they just simply shift those applications to another school in the same zone, perhaps one that doesn’t even have a good record. After all, parents want what is best for their children, no?

And what happened to freedom of choice and association? Should the ministry be taking personal responsibility for where one’s child ends up?

Could we not have made online enrollment an option rather?

So many kinks… so little explanation.