Official statistics this week showed that close to 100 000 students may not sit for the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (Zimsec) ‘O’ Level examinations due to lack of funds.
The examinations body is charging US$10 and US$20 per subject for ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels.
The growing number would limit the students’ chances of securing formal employment or furthering their studies, which requires the mandatory five ‘O’ Level subjects.
Lazarus Dokora, Deputy Education minister, on Wednesday told parliament during question time that the “modest registration” of candidates was below government expectations following the provision of state loans to finance poor families.
Government, according to Dokora, extended payment of the examination fees to next January.
“Some 132 538 candidates had registered for a total of 642 004 subjects. The candidature represented 55% of the entry for 2008 which had 239 434 candidates registered for 1 382 371 subjects. The average number of subjects per candidate then was six compared to the current 4,8 subjects. Thus, a number of candidates failed to register for the basic minimum of five subjects”, Dokora said.
He however said the figures would rise as “more entries are received from outlining areas of the country which depend on the postal services for delivery of their registration forms to Zimsec”.
Government, partnering with the United Nations Childrens’ Fund, assists several school children from the country’s “18 focal districts” with learning material and school fees.
“In 2008, some 36 917 candidates registered for 114 829 subjects in the ‘A’ level examinations. So far, this year, some 25 000 candidates had registered for 72 891 subjects by Friday 30 October,” Dokora said. “This represents 68% of the 2008 candidature. The average of subjects per candidate stood at 3,1% in 2008 compared to that of 2,9 this year. This indicates failure by some candidates to register for the expected three basic minimum subjects at this level.” — Staff Writer.