(No. B/967) Mr O. Mahomed (Third Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research whether, in regard to the scientific subjects at National Examinations level, including Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, English, Biology and Computer Science, she will state the pass rate thereof in 2015 and in 2016, if available. Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, with regard to performances of students having sat for the Form III National Assessment in 2015 in Science subjects, including Physics, Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Computer Science as well as English, the passes are as follows – (i) English – 77.2%; (ii) French – 68.5%; (iii) Maths – 41.5%; (iv) Computer Science – 73.4%; (v) Chemistry – 50.3%; (vi) Physics – 32.6%, and (vii) Biology – 50.3%. As regards the performance of year 2016, I am informed that the report is being compiled at the level of the Quality Assurance and Inspection Division of my Ministry. I will be circulating the information as soon as it is available. 46 My Ministry, in collaboration with the Mauritius Institute of Education, has devised a number of strategies towards improving performance in the seven subjects based on the learning difficulties diagnosed during the performance analysis carried out. These strategies are contained in the document entitled: Proposed Strategies to Enhance Performance at Form III National Assessment which has been made available to schools. The Quality Assurance in Inspection Division carried out regular visits to monitor the implementation of these strategies at the classroom level. It will also conduct a series of workshops for different subjects, including Science. Madam Speaker, in addition, the promotion of Science subjects is being carried out through the organisation of various activities such as Science Exhibitions, Competitions, Workshops and Science Fairs amongst others. In the context of the NYCBE reform, the National Curriculum Framework for Grades 7 and 9 is being currently reviewed by the MIE and will have more integrated approached for Science and Technology teaching. Mr Mahomed: The figures are quite low for Physics, Maths, Chemistry and Biology. Now, in the strategy mentioned by the hon. Minister, she did not mention about the NineYear Schooling. May I ask the hon. Minister, how the Nine-Year Schooling, with its impending implementation in a few months’ time, will address this very important issue? Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, the Nine Year Continuous Basic Education Programme is a programme which extends from Grade 1 to Grade 9 and obviously, we are coming up with new strategies, innovative pedagogies to ensure that students, through hands-on and practical programmes, do get more interested in the Science subjects. Furthermore, the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre has started a campaign to introduce Science even at pre-primary level to ensure that the awakening of interest for Science is arose at a very early age. As far as the Nine-Year Schooling is concerned, the curriculum is being reviewed for Grades 7 to 9. It is currently being done and this with the support of educators and experts trying to make sure that the curriculum that is being implemented is supported with relevant, practical and hands-on activities. 47 NINE-YEAR BASIC SCHOOLING PROGRAMME – SECONDARY SCHOOL – ADMISSION (No. B/968) Mr O. Mahomed (Third Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research whether, in regard to the Nine-Year Basic Schooling Programme, she will state if parents have expressed their apprehensions at the level of her Ministry in relation thereto, favouring the admission of their wards in Form I in confessional and private schools as opposed to public secondary schools. Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, the Nine-Year Continuous Basic Education Project has been subject to extensive consultations on a wide cross section of stakeholders of the education sector. As of now, my Ministry has not received specifically any such apprehensions from parents with respect to favouring admission of their children in Form I, in confessional and private schools as opposed to public secondary schools. Madam Speaker, as hon. Members would be aware, pupils after completion of the six years of primary schooling, having taken part in the assessment of the Primary School Achievement Certificate, will normally transit to Grade 7 under a regional mode of admission. • The pupils will be allocated a Regional Secondary School, State or Private, based on the same criteria currently applicable for admission to Form I in Regional Schools taking into consideration the following criteria – • parental choice; • overall grading at the Primary School Achievement Certificate, and • proximity of residence to the secondary school. However, given the diversity of preferences, the choice to opt for admission to a Private Secondary School whether grant aided or fee school or alternatively to a State Secondary School, rests with parents, responsible parties, and has always been there even under the current mode of admission. Parents can thus always exercise their choice and opt to seek admission accordingly. From feedback obtained, there has been general consensus on the broad contours of the project. Madam Speaker: Hon. Osman Mahomed! 48 Mr Mahomed: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Well, I ask the question against the backdrop that many of my constituents came to see me following several press articles namely ‘L’UPSEE brandit la menace d’une grève générale dans tous les collèges à la rentrée 2017.’ Now, I have listened to what those people are saying and in there is the hon. Minister aware that mention is made of a MIE report of 30 September 2016 wherein the PSSA was absent and also many points that are inherent of the nine-year schooling project, have not yet been finalised or there are still a lot of shortcomings? Have these issues been resolved in the meantime? Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, I will ask the hon. Member not to go by Press articles. In fact, no problem would arrive at the level of the Private Secondary Schools with implementation of the reform. Firstly, with the National Schools not admitting students at the level of Grade VII, students will have to be re-distributed among the Regional Schools and these are the State Regional Schools as well as the Private Regional Schools. So, the question of number of students being admitted to the Regional Schools would not go down with the idea that all students will transit from Grade VI to Grade VII, the number of students moving up in the secondary sector will even be greater. So, these apprehensions are not founded. And furthermore, I do not know of which particular meeting the hon. Member is talking about, but we have had consultations with the Federations of Managers, with the Unions and with the MIE. So, I think everything is ready and there is no need to have apprehensions or fear of this type. All schools – whether they are confessional or State or Private fee paying schools – are engaged in the reform and they will all have to go through the process. Mr Baloomoody: The hon. Minister just mentioned that all schools are engaged in the process of the nine-year schooling. May I know whether the Confessional Schools will go up to the academies? Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, all schools will run classes from Grade VII to Grade XIII, that is, what we call Form I to Form VI. Now, Confessional Schools, Private schools and Public schools will all run these classes. We have asked Private schools if they intend to have academies. Academies are colleges which would admit students only as from Form IV, that is, Grade 10. The Confessional schools have informed us that they are engaged and they are following the process, they are following the reform and they have not yet decided to have academies. But then, their doors will be opened to all students as they are today, that is, they will be having 50% of the students coming from the Government list and 50% of their own admission. Madam Speaker: Last question, hon. Osman Mahomed! Mr Mahomed: I have no other question, but I would table the Press report I was referring to, to the hon. Minister’s attention. There is a video in there and all the details are given. BLACK TEA – SHORTAGE (No. B/969) Mr O. Mahomed (Third Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection whether, in regard to the Mauritian tea, he will state the countries to which same is exported, indicating if, lately, there has been reported cases of sale of “loose” local tea in the black market and, if so, indicate the measures taken, if any, in relation thereto. The Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security (Mr M. Seeruttun): Madam Speaker, I shall with your permission, reply to this Parliamentary Question. According to records kept at the National Agricultural Products Regulatory Office (NAPRO), a total amount of 43,428 kg of tea was exported during the period 01 January to 08 November 2016. A small part thereof, i.e around 1,157 kg, was exported to the following countries – United Kingdom (288 kg), France (706 kg), China (66 kg), Australia (36 kg), Comoros (55 kg) and Luxembourg (6 kg). Bois Cheri and Corson have sold around 42,271 kg to the Mauritius Duty Free Paradise and Freeport companies for eventual export to Reunion Island, France and Germany. Madam Speaker, the 43,428 kg of tea exported represents a small percentage of the total production of black tea which is around 1,500 tons annually. As regards the alleged sale of “loose” local tea on the black market, the National Agricultural Products Regulatory Office has indicated that no report to that effect has been received nor any complaint made by the public. My Ministry is also not in the presence of any report in that respect. Madam Speaker, I would like to inform the House that the shortage of black tea, mostly in 250g and 500g packages, is due to a shortfall in production because of the long winter, coupled with heavy rainfall received at the beginning of the year. There is no shortage of tea bags however. At the end of June 2016, stocks stood at 1.5 months compared 50 to 3.5 months for the previous year. In order to make up for this shortage, the three tea manufacturers have been allowed, as is the practice, to import black tea for blending purposes. The quantity of black tea imported during the past three years is as follows – 2014: 20 tonnes 2015: 85 tonnes 2016: 130 tonnes (up to October 2016) Furthermore, reduced amounts along the distribution chain, together with higher than normal purchases by consumers, have also contributed to the shortage. Madam Speaker, the harvest season for this year has just started and I am confident that the production of green leaves will be much better than that of the previous year and the shortage problem will be soon resolved. Moreover, as announced in the last Budget Speech, the following measures are being taken by my Ministry to revitalise the tea sector – (i) the setting up of a new tea nursery at La Brasserie for the production of seedlings and plantlets to be distributed free of charge to tea planters; (ii) free distribution of fertilisers to tea planters; (iii) distribution of pruning shears free of charge to tea planters; (iv) nearly 600 arpents of land in the ex-tea belt area have been identified for new tea plantations, and (v) reopening of the Dubreuil tea factory by a private promoter. Mr Mahomed: Well, I have tried to find loose tea on the market, but I could not get. So, I am speaking my own experience, although the hon. Minister said something different. (Interruptions) Is the hon. Minister aware that there is one particular brand of tea which is called ‘Kuanfu thé noir’ which is being exported by tens of tonnes and I have had the chance to call up that company… Madam Speaker: What is your question? Ask you question! (Interruptions) 51 Mr Mahomed: They are marketing baby leaves tea which is being sold as a premium. I am going to give all the details to the hon. Minister. Madam Speaker: You are asking which question, hon. Osman Mahomed! Mr Mahomed: Is the hon. Minister aware that baby leaves are being plucked and sold as a premium at a time when there is a dire shortage of tea on the local market. Mr Seeruttun: Madam Speaker, the new promoter in the tea sector has been around for a few years now and he has been trying to promote a premium tea which is true. But so far he has been doing it on a trial basis and he has not really sold it on a bulk volume. The promoter has made his application to re-open the ex-Dubreuil tea factory. That is why, since I have taken the responsibility of the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security, I carried out a study about the tea industry globally, and we found out that this tea industry is growing up at a pace of about 7% growth worldwide. There is a big opportunity there, and we feel that our tea is very much appreciated worldwide. So, this is a tea sector which we can encourage to grow so that we can bring new players in that sector and allow the industry to become even bigger.