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Graduation: a sacred cow

All fields have their sacred cows; education is no exception and high school graduation may be the most “sacred” of all

By sacred, I mean something that is respected to the point that it cannot be questioned. 

Increasingly among the people I meet, the meaning, even the value, of a high school diploma is being called into question. To be clear, I’m talking about the value of the diploma and not the value of the education itself. To many old-timers, graduation means successfully “passing” a set of exams or subjects specified by the school or province.  Now graduation seems to apply all who complete 12 years of schooling regardless of grades or marks. Either position is defensible but the current “fudging” is not; the present practice is dishonest, to say the least.

The practice of using one piece of paper for two different purposes is confusing; why not issue two – one confirming what and where a person studied and the other confirming what was learned – in effect, one a credential and the other a qualification. I don’t think it necessary for everyone to have a qualification for everything studied but a qualification in a few areas would be useful – reading, writing and arithmetic, personal management skills and perhaps one or two others. Even better, would be to have the qualifications awarded by an independent body. That seems to work for apprenticeship, music, the International Baccalaureate Program and even in sports. Also among our options, is that of establishing a qualification authority as has been done by most developed countries.

It’s time to restore meaning to high school graduation; let’s create an Island solution - and let’s do it soon.


Don Glendenning,



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