Extended Exam Deadlines Wreak Havoc

ZIMBABWE Schools Examinations Council (Zimsec) yesterday said only 139 000 out of 380 000 Ordinary and Advanced Level students had registered for this year’s public examinations that have been marred by chaotic preparations.

The council said 120 400 Ordinary and 18 500 Advanced Level candidates registered for the examinations compared to 239 430 and 138 000 last year.

The low number of registered candidates was as a result of the exorbitant examination fees, which were pegged at US$10 and US$20 per ‘O’ and ‘A’ Level subjects, which most parents could not afford.

David Coltart, the Education minister, recently said government was working on modalities to ensure that students who failed to raise the fees sit for the examinations and pay later.

Zimsec director Happy Ndanga told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that the council was in a quandary as to how many question papers to print and send to each examination centres after the government directive.

“Without the actual entry figures we cannot tell what numbers to pack per centre per subject. We cannot issue a timetable, print attendance registers and order mark sheets,” Ndanga said.

The deadline for registration was extended last month to today.

On the printing of the examination papers, Ndanga said this was “progressing well” but he lamented the decision to extend the registration deadline.

He said if they had stuck to the original deadline, the “printer would have finished printing and packing and sent the full consignment by Monday 21st October enabling examinations to begin by the second week of November”.

Ndanga added: “Until we know that information and supply it to the printer, he will not know how many question papers to pack.

“We therefore cannot issue a realistic timetable (of the examinations) until we are certain that the packing lists are available and the packing can be done in the available time.”

An unnamed South African company has been contracted to print the examinations papers.

There are fears that the writing of public examinations could spill over to early next year, a situation that will further prejudice candidates. Results of all public examinations written last year were only released late into this year.

Jesilyn Dendere

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