Mind-boggling. There is no better word to describe the current controversy over college students who can’t spell or do simple maths. The latest figures show that almost two-thirds of vocational college students would fail the language test held in the final year of primary school!

The problem has been around for some time. Clearly, a 19-year-old student who can’t spell, was once also an 11-year primary school pupil who couldn’t spell.
This begs the question: why is the problem not spotted and corrected at an earlier stage? The answer may lie in the fact that the teachers’ own level of spelling and maths simply isn’t good enough. The latest batch of trainee teachers was found to have the same deficiency in spelling and maths as the students.
Part of the problem may also lie in the airy-fairy approach to education in the past 20 years; spewing all kinds of philosophies and tinkering with systems while forgetting the basics. As one student put it: “We read lots of poetry but did little about grammar.”
So, should we get back to basics at primary and secondary school? Well, no. That’s too simple, apparently. To correct the problem, the boss of the vocational college council advocates a ‘gap year’ for students so that they can acquire a decent level of maths and spelling.
A year to learn to spell mind-boggling and similar tricky words at the taxpayers’ expense? Now that makes sense!

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