HARARE - There is stagnation in the “O” Level pass rate and this has bred a wildfire of despair, anger and disappointment.
However, there are a few sparks of top-level pupil achievement like the story of Chido Michelle Mawarura, who secured 10 As at Langham Girls High in Mvurwi, in the recently released “O” Level results.
There are also some larger flares of success as well such as the story of the Monte Cassino Girls High, which managed to retain pole position as the best school in Zimbabwe for a second year running.
The school recorded a 100 percent pass rate from 83 students who sat for the November “O” Level exam. At least 22,38 percent of “O” Level candidates qualified with passes and so can apply for “A” Level study.
The fire hydrants — that is, what the nation has apparently agreed on as ways of dampening the flames — are worth noting from the outset, however.
First, the 2014 exams increased the cognitive rigour and demand of the curriculum.
As Esau Nhandara, the Zimsec director put it, the pass rates for both public and private schools for November 2014 indicate that there was no significant effect on the reported examination leakages on candidates’ performance.
Despite the leakages in the English Language and Mathematics papers, the performance of candidates in the papers that were re-sat was comparable to the November 2013 results.
Nhandara said the total number of candidates who sat for five subjects and above was 173 856 and that those who passed five subjects and above with Grade C or better were 36 031.
There is widespread consensus that exam leakages, despite Zimsec’s attempts to paper over this crisis, is one of many factors that continue to discredit otherwise fantastic results.
These fire hydrants, though, cannot possibly cope with the current firestorm — one that, from this newspaper’s perspective, exceeds by a mile previous worst wildfire in the country’s education history: the continuing public fury of leakages of exam papers.
Zimsec will have to deal with this problem once and for all.
We are, however, hopeful that this disease will be a thing of the past as Zimsec has started implementing tough measures to stop leakages and we support them.
The conviction that the 2014 “O” Level pass rate would remain stagnant was widely, and uncomplainingly, accepted among educationists.
The Daily News’ only complaint about the stagnation is that the pass rate is too low.
We need to ramp up the pass rate, and get more children into “A” Level, and possibly into university. A 22 percent pass rate at “O” Level is hardly pleasing.