THE Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) has defended the high grades that were scored by candidates in the A’ Level public examinations saying they must be attributed to improved access to learning resources as well as teaching cultures.
The autonomous parastatal under the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education that is responsible for the administration of public examinations in Zimbabwe recently came under fire after high grades recorded in the Advanced level sparked debate in various corridors.
A former Ruya Adventist Secondary School student Tadiwanashe Mavetera scored 10As in the November 2022 Zimsec examination while at Pamushana High School in Bikita there was a high yield of As with 103 students scoring more than 15 points each. The school’s best student Abraham Ndlovu notched 30 points and he got straight As in Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, Geography, Pure Mathematics and Statistics.
The improved grades saw some academia referring to them as ‘grade inflation’. However, Zimsec Spokesperson Ms Nicky Dlamini said the institution executed its mandate according to the set standards and attributed the high grades to improved learning conditions.
“Our mandate is to award candidates according to their performances. We do not change grades because candidates are performing well. One thing that we should realise is that the candidates that are being compared to now have better access to learning resources and extra lessons that they are exposed to. Therefore, it will be obvious that those that have access to these resources will perform much better.
“It does not affect the credibility of examinations at all because we assess the curriculum being taught to these candidates. We benchmark regionally and internationally for our assessment standards. We do not judge or look at individual candidates, we look at assessment standards, that is our mandate,” said Ms Dlamini
She said that while the public may raise concerns over the improved grades, it is imperative to consider how the students are taught as the examining body only comes to examine and not to teach.
“The public should investigate how were the students being taught? What was their learning system like? How did that school produce those results because Zimsec comes after teaching, we do not come before teaching. If these candidates are doing well, people should then look at the teaching to say there is a good teacher behind the candidate,” said Ms Dlamini.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education also weighed in saying the improved grades were normal. In an interview with Sunday News, the Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Edgar Moyo who is an educationist said doing more subjects increases chances of being exposed to a particular concept in various areas.
“The more subjects you learn the greater conceptualisation of the areas that you will be learning. For example, if someone is doing Pure Mathematics, Further Mathematics and Statistics, the concepts build into each other and help you in other subjects.
“The requirement of two or three A level passes at university is just a custom and practice. There is no law that stipulates that. It emanated from that a child with three subjects which are related, he/she can find a career. However, the challenge of doing more subjects might be that there will be more work load for the student especially if they are not really gifted and it also becomes a burden to the parents in terms of financing,” said Minister Moyo.
Minister Moyo however, noted that the Ministry would discuss the matter following the rising concerns being raised by the public.
“We have not really sat down to discuss this issue as a Ministry but it is something that we are just noting. The public has been raising this issue of high grades so at some point we might need to sit down and look at it probably to come up with a policy because policies come up because of what will be obtaining on the ground. At the moment what I can say is that we are noting the concerns,” said Minister Moyo.
— Sunday News