Mauritius: Expanding the curriculum to prepare students for the world of work
14th January 2019
Over a century in Mauritius
We have provided qualifications to Mauritian state and independent schools for over 100 years, which have been managed by the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate (MES) for over 30 years. Students take Cambridge O Levels at the end of Grade 11 to obtain the School Certificate, and Cambridge International AS & A Levels at the end of Grade 13 to achieve the Higher School Certificate.
The Mauritius government wanted to address the dual challenge of an economic skills gap, particularly acute in the IT sector, and youth unemployment and high drop-out rates among 16 year-olds finishing compulsory education.
A new professional pathway within the upper secondary education system, designed to prepare learners for sector-specific work without compromising their opportunity to progress to university, was created to address both challenges simultaneously.
Together with the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate, and the Mauritius Ministry of Education and Human Resources, we developed an alternative (optional) curriculum for 16–19 year olds, the Higher School Certificate Professional (HSC Pro). Initially piloted from January 2015, this ambitious new curriculum aimed to:
- provide an alternative, professionally focused study pathway
- close the gap between school-leavers’ skills and employers’ needs
- reduce the number of students leaving education at 16
- meet the country’s economic needs, particularly in ICT
- reduce the level of youth unemployment
- prepare students for lifelong learning.
Drawing on the expertise in vocational education and assessment in the Cambridge Assessment Group, together with the Mauritius Ministry of Education, we developed a curriculum and assessment approach, which combined technical and transferable skills with academic subjects, thereby preparing students either for employment or for university.
The resulting HSC Pro curriculum comprises three Cambridge International AS & A Level qualifications in academic subjects, the skills-based Cambridge International AS Level in Global Perspectives, and a qualification designed for Mauritius – the Cambridge Advanced Professional in IT, and compulsory work experience. This combination ensures that the value of the HSC Pro remains equal to its general academic alternative (the Higher School Certificate). HSC Pro students develop the knowledge and technical understanding sought by employers in the IT sector, together with transferable higher order thinking skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, which prepare students for the requirements of work and university.
The HSC Pro has received very positive feedback from students, teachers and employers, with some graduates of the programme already employed by their work-placement companies.
“For the MES, a good professional relationship has been developed with Cambridge International Examinations over the years, which has contributed to the effective organisation and conduct of examinations at national level and in ensuring public confidence. The introduction of this innovative and ground-breaking programme, the HSC Pro, is a great contributor to the development of education in Mauritius.”
— Professor Lucien Finette, former Director, Mauritius Examinations Syndicate