Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe has led a mass outrage against the decision by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to force over 260 000 students to re-sit last year’s O’Level English Paper 2.
Speaking through the secretary general, Raymond Majongwe, PTUZ said the call by the ministry is absurd and unfair and heads must roll at Zimsec otherwise the rot will continue.
“This decision just shows that either people at the ministry or at Zimsec or both are rotten. It leaves us wondering if the permanent secretary at the ministry of primary and secondary education is still the right person for the job? And whether the Zimsec directors are still the right people for those positions!’ fumed Majongwe.
Majongwe said now is the wrong time to make such a decision and there is not enough time for students to prepare.
“This is an O’Level paper and candidates prepare for it over two years. Now they are being given one week to prepare for that exam. How absurd is that?
“When did this paper leak? Obvious these people knew about the leakage months ago but they decide to order a re-sit days before results are supposed to be announced. Think of boarding schools and how they are supposed to arrange for these exams. Think of the students who live in Victoria Falls but were in boarding school in Masvingo? Do we just assume their parents have money to send them to Masvingo in this economy? How does such a student prepare for the exam after a long journey? How do you solve issues regarding accommodation?
“What about the student who is out of the country? The parents had planned to move and wait for results from there to proceed with their education from there. They had no plans to come back so where do they get the airfares? This just shows people are not thinking,” said Majongwe.
He even asked whether the students are in the same frame of mind or living conditions as they were.
“Some of those students are now pre_gnant! Situations have changed.”
Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Professor Paul Mavima yesterday announced that results for the November 2017 English Paper have been nullified following widespread cheating of the paper.
Addressing the press yesterday Professor Mavima said:
“I would like to advise the nation that the November 2017 Ordinary Level English language Paper 2 examination will be retaken on Friday 16 February 2018 from 1000 hours to 1200 hours. All results for the November 2017 English Language Paper 2 have been nullified.
“This follows the widespread cheating in this paper, exacerbated by the social media, and identified during the November 2017 examination session. It was reported in the press during the examination and subsequently validated during the marking of candidate scripts,” he said.
However, Majongwe argues that social media only affects a few candidates and the majority have no access to it and deserves their passes or fails which have been nullified.
“Reports say many other papers leaked. Your sister paper Manica Post reported that the History paper leaked at Mutare Boys High and there were other reports that the Maths Paper leaked at some other school in Marondera, so all those must be re-written too?” asked Majongwe.
Professor Mavima said, through his statement, he regrets the inconveniences the re-sit will cause.
“I regret the inconvenience and general stakeholder disaffection that this decision will cause. I would want to emphasise that this drastic decision has been arrived at after painstaking and agonising consideration. In the final analysis, the decision has been necessitated by the need to maintain and preserve the integrity of the National Examination System.
“It is regrettable that some innocent candidates will be inconvenienced by this remedial action but the circumstances of the cheating left no other alternative.
“In this regard, all Candidates who sat for the November 2017 Examination are therefore required to report to their 2017 Examination Centres in order to write the Examination which begins at 10.00 hours on FRIDAY 16 FEBRUARY 2018.
“Candidates who have been informed of the cancellation of results because of cheating during the Examinations in a. all subjects b. English Language only should not re-write this English Language Paper 2 and this includes those who were prosecuted and sentenced.”
According to ZIMSEC, over 260 000 candidates sat for the examination.
Speaking during the same event, Zimsec director Mr Esau Nhandara said the board would ensure that results are released in the shortest time possible.
“We want to assure the nation that after the writing of the examination for English Language Paper 2 on the 16th, our logistical arrangement is – we should take back on the same day the scripts that have been written to come to ZIMSEC for marking.
“If that happens, we want to give it a week to mark then the exact details of when the results will be announced will be worked out from there but we are looking at a situation where the shortest possible time is going to be effected to get this process underway,” he said.
Mr Nhandara could not reveal the costs to be incurred in the examination re-sit saying ‘integrity was expensive, but it is not much – it can be a few $100 000 – but the issue is this is worth that is taking place in good faith – so we do not have final figures yet’.
He said ZIMSEC was still working on further improving the examinations security system.
PTUZ’s main worry is the fact that this is not a permanent solution to the problem,
“They should look at the real cancer and deal with it. The real source of the problem is Zimsec and the situation will remain this bad as long as people are not removed from Zimsec. They leak the exams and punish candidates and wait for the other year to leak more! How are we solving the situation?” fumed Majongwe who said their organisation and other stakeholders want to meet President Emmersoin Mnangagwa over the issue.
Reports of exam papers leaking have now become a norm, last year a Mathematics Paper 1 leaked and was accessed by at least 12 candidates. The candidates, who unduly accessed the Mathematics Paper 1 were arrested and Zimbabwe School Examination Council (ZIMSEC) said the paper was not going to be re-written.
“We want an urgent meeting with the President over this. People are not even looking at the consequences of this issue. What happens to the first term of A-Level? There are students who are waiting to go and study abroad with results of these examinations, what happens to them?” questioned Majongwe.