Govt must act on Zimsec rot

Govt must act on Zimsec rot
Published: 04 March 2018 (253 Views)
Zimbabwe always prides itself on having one of the best education systems in Africa, but recent revelations of massive examination paper leakages could be an indication that the wheels are coming off.

The integrity of the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (Zimsec) was brought into question last month when the government ordered candidates who sat for the November 2017 English Paper 2 to retake the examination.

Zimsec said it had discovered that the paper was leaked and a number of candidates had access to the examination before they sat for it, hence the cancellation.

However, the government order was reversed by the High Court, which compelled Zimsec to use the English Paper 1 to come up with the final marks for the examination.

The implications for that court ruling as far as the integrity of that examination and the pass rate is concerned are yet to be unpacked, but it goes without saying that they are far-reaching.

Seven senior Zimsec executives, including the director Esau Nhandara, were suspended pending investigations into how they handled the leakage of the examination papers.

Subsequent investigations by this paper revealed that the leakage was not confined to the English Language Paper 2 as the Mathematics and Science papers also found their way into the hands of candidates ahead of the sittings.

According to a report titled "Enquiry into Zimsec questions leakage during 2017 examinations" obtained from the Primary and Secondary Education ministry, Mathematics had the highest number of papers that were leaked last year.

English had the second highest number of papers that found their way into the hands of the candidates before the examination date followed by Science.
The investigators discovered that systems at Zimsec were lax, hence the leakages that have become a common occurrence.

There are some obvious problems that are not covered in the report that could be pointed out as reasons for the poor standards at Zimsec, which include poor funding.

Since the High Court ruling and the suspension of the Zimsec directors, the government has not shown any seriousness in addressing the rot once and for all.

It worries us that it remains business as usual for the authorities when they should be taking practical steps in restoring confidence in the examination system.

The O'Level results that were recently released by Zimsec have sent tongues wagging because of the high number of As scored by candidates, which have seen children with as many as 9As failing to secure A'Level places.

Although the 2017 pass rate fell marginally to 26,3% from 27,92% the previous year, the quality of the grades has raised eyebrows especially in light of the reports of widespread cheating.

The government must move with speed in dealing with the rot at Zimsec so as to restore confidence, not only in local examinations, but in the country's entire education system.

- the standard

Tags: Zimsec, Rot, Govt,
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