THE Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) told us last week that some 4 961 candidates who sat for Ordinary Level examinations last year had their results nullified for cheating.
All the Zimsec chairperson Eddie Mwenje told us was: “Candidates who had pre-access to question papers at different examination centres were identified during the writing of the examinations and also at the marking of scripts and grade review stages.
“The results of such candidates were nullified for the subjects in question in accordance with the Zimsec Act section 34. Candidates, headmasters and members of the public who were caught posting question papers on WhatsApp and those buying them were arrested and appeared in court.
“All other practices that contravened the Zimsec Act were brought to the attention of Zimsec by respective schools. As a result of the combined investigation reports from schools, and the identification of culprits at the marking and grade reviews stages, a total of 4 961 candidates had results nullified.”
It is quite well and good that Zimsec managed to fish out all those people who allegedly cheated during last year’s “O” Level examinations, but there is something very fishy about this whole issue.
Does it mean that the issue is now dead and buried simply because results of the nearly 5 000 cheaters were nullified? Surely, this cannot be the end of the story. Why did Mwenje not utter a single word about the source of the examination leaks? This is quite curious.
If Zimsec does not dig deeper and find out how those papers ended up in the unfortunate candidates’ hands in the first place, then the issue of examination papers leakages will forever haunt the country and will worsen.
That almost 5 000 pupils had access to the papers before sitting for their examinations is quite telling and thousands more could have had access and Zimsec could be downplaying the figure.
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We believe that there should be an independent investigation into this matter because there is no way Zimsec can tell us that this matter has been solved by the arrest of the “candidates, headmasters and members of the public who were caught posting question papers on WhatsApp and those buying” the examination question papers.
We believe the rot is emanating right from Zimsec corridors and we challenge the schools examinations body to prove us wrong in our assessment by allowing an independent team of investigators to look into this matter and solve the problem once and for all because this examination paper leakage issue has been with us for too long and needs to be solved once and for all. As it is, our reputation as a country of excellence in terms of producing well educated people is under serious threat.
What we know for sure is, all the country’s 10 provinces set examination papers which are pooled and meticulously assessed for relevance and whether candidates will be able to sit for them.
The papers are stored away and the papers that are chosen for the final examinations are never known by anyone, except by a select few at Zimsec who are tasked with safeguarding the papers.
We hear that some of the arrested candidates openly said they were given the papers by their “relatives” at Zimsec and we are flabbergasted that Zimsec is choosing to lay all the blame on those who received the papers, while turning a blind eye to the source of those leakages.
We challenge Zimsec to come very clean on this one because there is no way those papers could have mysteriously availed themselves to the gullible candidates, headmasters and the public.
Zimsec has a lot to answer and we demand those answers, because as it is the institution appears to be sweeping a lot of dirt under the carpet.