New rules for Zim­sec ex­ams

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Robin Muchetu Se­nior Re­porter

SCHOOLS will no longer be al­lowed to col­lect ex­am­i­na­tion pa­pers days be­fore the ex­am­i­na­tion date but will col­lect and re­turn each pa­per to the clus­ter cen­tre on the day of sit­ting as part of mea­sures to tighten se­cu­rity and avoid leak­ages.

Last year, Zim­babwe ex­am­i­na­tions were rocked by leak­ages which re­sulted in can­di­dates who sat for O-level English be­ing as­sessed on one pa­per af­ter Pa­per 2 marks were nul­li­fied. The Gov­ern­ment re­sponded by fir­ing most se­nior of­fi­cials who were head­ing the Zim­babwe Schools Ex­am­i­na­tions Coun­cil.

In an in­ter­view in Bu­l­awayo yes­ter­day, Pri­mary and Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Pro­fes­sor Paul Mav­ima said the Gov­ern­ment had to come up with a new model to main­tain in­tegrity of the lo­cal ex­am­i­na­tions.

“We have had cases where if the pa­per is brought to the school prior to the date of writ­ing, there were some breaches and now in or­der to in­crease the se­cu­rity of our ex­am­i­na­tions we have said those pa­pers must be picked on the day on which the ex­am­i­na­tion will be writ­ten ex­cept in very ex­treme cases where the dis­tance be­tween the clus­ter cen­tre and the school is pro­hib­i­tive in mak­ing sure that the exam starts in time, but there are some other se­cu­rity mea­sures that can be put in such cases,” he said.

Pupils will start writ­ing end of year pub­lic ex­am­i­na­tions next month. Prof Mav­ima added that the writ­ten scripts will also be re­turned to the clus­ter cen­tre on the same day. In the case of two ex­am­i­na­tions be­ing writ­ten on the same day, Prof Mav­ima said schools heads would pick up the sec­ond ses­sion pa­per when re­turn­ing the scripts of the pa­per writ­ten in the morn­ing. He also said those found breach­ing ex­am­i­na­tion reg­u­la­tions will now face jail time.

“We are in the process of chang­ing the act to make ex­am­i­na­tions breach a very se­ri­ous of­fence that at­tracts manda­tory jail time. We have done a com­plete au­dit of the whole ex­am­i­na­tion value chain and we cur­rently have a con­sul­tant work­ing on it and more mea­sures will be put in place in or­der to en­sure we don’t have any more breaches,” he said.

Prof Mav­ima said the Gov­ern­ment has tabled long term mea­sures to pro­tect the ex­am­i­na­tions.

“These in­clude the es­tab­lish­ment of our own Zim­sec print­ing press in Nor­ton, so the ma­jor­ity of pa­pers are now go­ing to be printed in house. We also dis­cov­ered that some of breaches em­anated from the print­ers.”

Tur­ing to the is­sue of the teacher com­pli­ment, Prof Mav­ima said the coun­try was fac­ing a deficit of 12000 teach­ers.

“We must have a com­ple­ment of 130 000 and we cur­rently have about 122 000 in post which leaves be­tween 10 000 and 12 000. So that is the num­ber that will bring us to op­ti­mal­ity as far as teach­ers are con­cerned. But ev­ery­day we have new schools be­ing es­tab­lished. We are also con­struct­ing schools ag­gres­sively as a min­istry and we also have com­mu­nity schools that are be­ing built by lo­cal author­i­ties and the com­mu­ni­ties them­selves. The num­ber of teach­ers that we need con­tin­ues to in­crease as we build more schools so to­day we many have a short­fall of 12 000 but to­mor­row it will be a com­pletely dif­fer­ent num­ber,” he said.

Prof Mav­ima said there were 1 500 satel­lite schools in re­set­tle­ment ar­eas that needed to be for­malised into func­tional schools. In ur­ban ar­eas, he said there are about 600 schools that needed to be es­tab­lished in or­der to de­con­gest the ex­ist­ing schools, some that have re­sorted to hot seat­ing to ac­com­mo­date more pupils.

“I was in Chegutu yes­ter­day and our learn­ers are learn­ing in to­bacco grad­ing sheds at a for­mer com­mer­cial farm and the sheds are used as class­rooms. For­tu­nately the pri­vate cas­tor came in to help the lo­cal au­thor­ity to build a good school. So we are go­ing through all those schools to for­malise them and make them mod­ern,” he said.

Added Prof Mav­ima: “We es­ti­mated in 2015 that we needed 2 056 schools but we re­alised that we have been build­ing schools as cen­tral Gov­ern­ment but also com­mu­ni­ties have done the same. Look­ing at what we have done and the con­tin­u­ous growth of pop­u­la­tion we still need about 2 000 schools.”

He also said Gov­ern­ment was work­ing on reg­u­lar­is­ing the ap­point­ment of heads at schools that are run by act­ing heads.

“We have a con­tin­u­ous process of in­ter­view­ing peo­ple for those po­si­tions (head­mas­ters) and at every mo­ment we are fill­ing those po­si­tions, we want a sit­u­a­tion where schools are run by a sub­stan­tive head be­cause they have been in­ter­viewed and sub­jected to cer­tain stan­dards,” he added.

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