CHAOS is expected to reign supreme during Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (Zimsec)â€™s Grade 7, â€˜Oâ€™ and â€˜Aâ€™ Level examinations which commence on Monday due to the strike action by teachers over poor remuneration and working conditions.
Teachers have been on strike since September 2. Teachers have been on intermittent strikes since the beginning of the year with most often conducting lessons only once or twice a week.
The Zimbabwe Teachers Union (Zimta) and the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) yesterday said the Zimsec examinations would be written under unusual circumstances.
Grade 7 examinations start on Monday, while the â€˜Oâ€™ and â€˜Aâ€™ levels begin on November 3.
Zimta spokesman Sifiso Ndlovu said: â€œThe examinations will be written under unusual circumstances as the education system is operating below 40% and there might be no teachers to invigilate the examinations.â€
He added that Zimta had received a report from Mashonaland East where teachers at a school in the province failed to turn up to invigilate an Art practical test and the headmaster had to carry out the duty alone.
Ndlovu said postponement of the examinations until next year would have been better to preserve the quality of the countryâ€™s education.
Raymond Majongwe, the PTUZ president, said this yearâ€™s examinations were not necessary as the academic calendar was disturbed by the economic and political events prevailing in the country.
He said: â€œWe have communicated to the permanent secretary of education that examinations for 2008 are not necessary. The government wants to have the exams written for political reasons.â€
Majongwe said although teachers sympathised with schoolchildren and parents, they would not be able to invigilate considering the paltry salaries they received this month.
Teachers were this month paid between $60 000 to $100 000.
Representatives from Zimta are today expected to meet with Ministry of Education permanent secretary Stephen Mahere to address the crisis.
A reliable source at Zimsec said even though the examination dates and timetables were announced, the conditions the students were going to write under would affect the credibility of the tests.
â€œWe were told that the dates came from the Ministry of Education and it was a direct order that the examinations be written on those dates. The ministry said it was Zimsecâ€™s homework to make it possible,â€ the source said. â€œOne really wonders how the students are expected to write when some entry forms are still to be processed. The normal trend is that students make corrections on the forms which Zimsec will amend until everything is correct and then the statement of entries will be issued. They havenâ€™t received that and they are expected to write on Monday. There is total chaos.â€
The source said June results were yet to be released.
â€œThe June results are still to be marked and very few people are interested in marking them because of the pathetic salaries,â€ the source said. â€œUnder normal circumstances those who sat for the June examinations should have known their results around September or October before they sit for the November tests so that they donâ€™t waste their time repeating a subject they would have passed.â€
The source said there was a critical shortage of staff at Zimsec especially in the examinations administration department.
â€œThis month they gave workers a net salary of $12 000. Who would want to come and work and get such peanuts? They tried to recruit eight contract workers who they said would pay $829 000, but out of the eight, only two agreed.â€.
Efforts to get a comment from Mahere were in vain at the time of going to press yesterday.
By Lucia Makamure/Wongai Zhangazha