THE Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) was yesterday accused of presiding over “sham” examinations for several ‘O’ level subjects with schools around the country receiving incomplete material or students writing tests under candle light.
Students and invigilators around the country discovered that the Geography question paper, which included questions on map reading, was incomplete and the map missing, leading to panicky schools making last minute enquiries to neighbouring examination centres to find out if they had the correct paper.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general, Raymond Majongwe confirmed the chaos, adding that Ndebele and Mathematics examinations for the visually impaired were also affected by the chaos.
“The Geography examination paper had missing papers countrywide. There was also the Ndebele examination which had a serious mix up between Paper One and Paper Two. It
just shows you how shoddy it is and it’s not just this one, there is a Mathematics paper which was written by visually impaired persons last week, who diagrams were badly labelled. The question papers were inadequate, and pupils had to be dictated the question papers while they typed on braille for them to be able to write the exam,” Majongwe said.
Efforts to get a comment from Zimsec officials were fruitless, but Primary and Secondary Education permanent secretary Tumisang Thabela told NewsDay that she had not yet received the reports.
Thabela, however, said that her ministry was going to investigate the issue.
“I have not received such a report. Let me find out with our director of communications,” Thabela said.
He said there were a lot of blunders which made it difficult to believe that these were just general mistakes.
“It just means people aren’t doing their work and why are we forcing these exams when we are actually not ready for them? The tragedy now is, we are affecting pupils with COVID-19 and we are ultimately going to come up with shoddy processes and shoddy exam outcomes,” he said, adding that the brand Zimsec had gone up in smoke.
Sources in the ministry said that in Wedza district only one school Rambanepasi Secondary School was not affected after the school authorities managed to get 53 question papers that had the map, while the rest of the schools including Chigwedere, Chemhanza, Mount St Mary’s, St Annes Goto, Matsine and Gumbonzvanda high schools had incomplete question paper, but students proceeded to write the exam.
In other places, the examination papers arrived late with pupils having to write in the dim lights of candles.
In Hurungwe reports are that several schools were affected but the students still sat for the incomplete examination.
“Usually, Geography Paper One has a map for studying and then candidates answer 12 questions. However, at two different centres in Karoi the invigilators discovered that the examination paper had missing pages as the map was not there, with only questions available. The maps are always attached to the examination papers,” an official who declined identification said.
“The whole process is a sham. I think authorities should have postponed the examination as it is evident that they were ill-prepared to conduct them. The whole process discredits the holding of examinations in the country.”
In Mashonaland East, 90 schools reported a similar problem except for Rambanepasi Secondary School in Wedza which got 53 examinations papers which were complete.
Reports from Chipinge were that the exam paper arrived late and pupils were forced to write under candle light.
“In Chipinge the paper, which was supposed to be written from 2pm to 4pm, arrived late at some examination centres. Pupils at the affected schools were forced to sit for the exam after 8pm using candle light. We don’t know what’s really taking placing at Zimsec,” a stakeholder Marian Mhlanga said.
She also said some pupils, who lived in faraway places, had to leave without sitting for the exam.
“Some schools had to write papers which had already been opened because they had to borrow them from other schools which had already written in the afternoon,” Mhlanga said.