Let's maintain Zim's education standards

HARARE - The recent announcement of the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) Ordinary Level results for 2015 in which thousands passed with flying colours have raised serious concerns about whether the examination system is still robust or has been compromised.

One of the biggest concerns raised by various stakeholders is that Zimsec markers moderated pupils’ marks to help them get better grades, consequently watering down standards.

Apart from allegedly manipulating marks, the advent of Zimsec to replace Cambridge saw the introduction of structured questions where for example they are now required to list the five countries that took part in the First World War in subjects such as history where previously candidates would answer challenging essay questions.

Although Zimsec has not changed the subjects’ content, the way questions are structured does not necessarily encourage hard work and we therefore call upon government to consider a review.

While authorities have on many occasions assured the nation that Zimsec was not compromising on quality, there are allegations that last year’s markers were under strict instructions to make pupils pass.

Teachers who mark the Zimsec examinations often confirm in private that the country’s much-vaunted high literacy and excellent pass rates over the years have been built around the systematic manipulation of the grading system to allow low-scoring candidates to achieve distinction grades.

For 2015, it has been alleged that pupils who scored as low as 40 percent had their marks moderated to make them achieve a “C” grade which under normal circumstances should be awarded to a candidate scoring between 50 and 59 percent.

Whether the allegations are true or not, it does not auger well for the country’s education system in general and Zimsec in particular after years of being criticised for examination paper leaks.

It is really important that the nation has confidence in the examination system.

We urge government to investigate the allegations as they have the potential to negatively impact on the international perception of the country’s system of education.

Authorities should recognise the need to ensure the examination system operates effectively and this they can be achieved by getting on the ground and listening to stakeholders’ views.

The situation is not peculiar to “O” Levels only but to all classes that sit for public examinations.

Last year’s national pass rate was 27,86 percent — an improvement from the 2014 pass rate of just 22,38 percent, signalling a significant improvement.

There is need for a comprehensive analysis to ascertain the causes of these improvements, apart from the obvious fact that books were availed to schools.

Comments (3)

it is true.i mark at ZIMSEC.we are advised to make sure that children pass .even if you fail a kid ,the moderators will pass that child.Normally pupils with 30% will be upgraded to 50%

vilbram avril - 25 February 2016

This is hogwash, i have been marking Zimsec o level history for bthe past 15 years, what is contained in the article and the comment above is far from the truth. Marking at Zimsec is rigorous and response to issues of validity and reliabiluity to a greater extend. In as much as there may be weaknesses here and there, those weaksnesses do not warrant a complete compromise of the exam. Every passing candindate should be passed and every failing candidate is also failed. there are principles and procedures which ensure this. Its good to carry out a research first before writing and publishing baseless articles. Changes made to the o level history paper strengthen rather than weaken, the thrust towards critical thinking. # ncomponents ar adressed simple recall, description AND CRITICAL THINKING.

mlovshto - 26 February 2016

What was the reason for the Min of Education of banning extra lessons for exam preparation in our schools?

Qiniso Madoda - 2 March 2016

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