EDITORIAL COMMENT: Ministry should plug all leakages at Zimsec

Prof Paul Mavhima

Prof Paul Mavhima

We totally agree with the High Court that there is a need to completely overhaul the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council system if the country is to preserve the integrity of the national examinations. In remarks before nullifying the re-writing of the November 2017 Ordinary level English Language Paper 2 public examination, The High Court said the whole Zimsec system needs overhaul.

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education announced last week that it had nullified the November 2017 Ordinary Level English Language Paper 2 examination and candidates were supposed to resit the paper tomorrow. Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Paul Mavhima said the nullification was necessitated by widespread cheating by candidates.

Prof Mavhima said the cheating was reported in the press during the November 2017 examination session and subsequently validated during the marking of the candidates’ scripts. The Minister said the decision to nullify the examination was taken after a painstaking and agonising consideration. He said the decision was necessitated by the need to maintain and preserve the integrity of the national examination system.

The High Court which nullified the re-writing of the examination, said it was surprised that no action had been taken against the officials involved. Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo sitting with Justice Priscilla Munangati-Manongwa said it was surprising that heads did not roll at Zimsec which has become an anchorage of bungling. “This is a problem caused by officials at Zimsec so it cannot be business as usual,” said Justice Matanda-Moyo.

Justice Munangati-Manongwa said Zimsec minutes stated that the cheating could have emanated at setting of the examination, printing, collection and distribution among other levels which means Zimsec is acknowledging bungling. Prof Mavhima conceded that some innocent candidates could have been inconvenienced had the proposed remedial action been taken.

We urge Zimsec and the Education Ministry to urgently work on overhauling the whole system as recommended by the High Court.   Measures should be put in places to ensure all loopholes that allow leakages are plugged at every level to avoid a similar occurrence in future.

The whole chain from setting of question papers, printing, collection and distribution should not allow leakages. Zimsec should also conduct thorough investigations to establish at what level the leakage occurred last year and the culprits, as the High Court said, should be punished. These are the bad apples that should not be allowed to remain in the system if we are to preserve the integrity of the national examination system.

In cleaning the system we should not only look at officials at Zimsec but even those that are engaged to set examination question papers. These must be men and women of high integrity as they could also be the source of leakages. We want to once again call on Zimsec and the Education Ministry to do their best to restore confidence in our examination system which we have said before, has been the envy of many in the region and beyond.

Our graduates from local universities and tertiary institutions are sought after the world over because employers have confidence in our national examination system.