THE government has ordered an investigation into the language used in this year’s Grade 7 Ndebele examination paper following an outcry from parents that the slang used in a comprehension section was vulgar.
There was uproar from the southern region of the country following revelations that the Ndebele Paper 1 examination contained words such as umsuzo (fart) and umangumba (prostitute) among many others not commonly used in everyday conversations.
The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) initially issued a statement rejecting the criticism saying the examination passed a rigorous test set by Ndebele language experts.
But Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora on Thursday told Senate the paper “should have gone through a number of checks and balances”.
He was responding to a question from Chief Ngungumbane of Mberengwa who had asked the minister to respond to “complaints and wide spread criticism with regard to the Grade 7 Ndebele paper”.
“The appropriate way to look at the Ndebele paper, perhaps is to ask: Does Zimsec have a system of checks and balances to check on the way they produce their examination papers?
“The answer is yes, they do, but I’m also aware of the fact that our languages evolve through time and use as they try to grapple with the globalising experiences that we have today,” Dokora
“I’m aware of the items that you are referring to and we have asked the system to check on their appropriateness.
“There are varieties of the Ndebele language itself and it may be in that zone where there is contestation of the appropriateness of the use of a particular word as opposed to another that these items emerged.”
When the Southern Eye broke the story about the paper a fortnight ago, Zimsec director Esau Nhandara said the language used in the paper was “relevant to the situation of time, geography and space”.
However, Dokora told senators the examinations body should have been more sensitive.
“A more sensitive approach will be made so that we don’t have another slipshod (paper) of this nature,” he said.
“Perhaps, it should have gone through a number of checks and balances.
“It has been taken care of and I thank you for raising that matter.”
Nhandara’s response angered many Ndebele experts who accused him of not taking the issue seriously.