Saturday, 8 November 2014

Exam leakage now fashionable

IT looks like the silly season of leakages of public examination papers under the banner of the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) is upon us again, given the two reports carried in the media over the past few days.

The leaks are now becoming a norm and fashionable, never mind the embarrassment it causes to the country that brags of being the continent’s flag carrier in terms of literacy.

Since the country localised its public school examinations in the mid-to-late 1990s, phasing out the Cambridge examinations system with the establishment of Zimsec in a move that was partly forced by the need to cut costs, the issue of leakage of examination papers has slowly become a perennial occurrence.

Besides the embarrassment, the problem has and continues to poke a huge hole on the credibility of the country’s education system and causes a huge drain on the fiscus as most of these leaked papers have to be reset at a premium.

In 2012 alone, some 13 Ordinary Level examinations had to be reset at a cost of $850 000 after a headmaster lost the exam papers while travelling on public transport from Bulawayo to his rural school somewhere in Matabeleland.
Exam leakage now fashionable
This year, similar incidents have been reported in the Midlands where some teachers were nabbed for causing leakages.

While in most cases teachers involved teachers at the affected schools, we cannot rule out the involvement of some unscrupulous staffers at Zimsec in the whole chain.

We also wonder why Zimsec officials seem clueless on how to plug the holes nearly two decades after taking over management of public examinations.

Zimsec has also been accused of causing delays in releasing certificates and mixing up students’ results.

We believe it’s time Zimsec authorities owned up and admit failure to manage public examinations and allow for new innovative brains to take over the running of the organisation.

Government should also play ball in ensuring Zimsec is adequately resourced to avoid cases where examination papers are carried on bus carriers and ended up lost along the way.

Zimbabwe prides herself as having one of the best education systems on the continent. With these examination paper leaks, that credibility will be severely questioned.

Who would trust the local education system when papers leak at will? It has taken the country over 30 years to build credible education standards. These standards should not be lost through careless actions of Zimsec officials.

Zimsec has to take a holistic approach to the matter at hand. If it means firing people, let it be so as long as we maintain that integrity of a credible education system.
The late former Education minister Edmund Garwe resigned and committed suicide after his daughter got access to the ZJC examination papers.

Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora has to shape up or ship out. Those found on the wrong side of the law should face the music. The sooner we do that, the better for Zimbabwe.

The nation has pressing issues to attend to and not this incompetence displayed by the Ministry of Education. Newsday

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