THE issue of the controversial 2013 Grade 7 Ndebele examination paper that was condemned for the use of inappropriate language surfaced again in the National Assembly last week as MPs demanded an overhaul of the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec).
MPs also questioned the credibility of ‘O’ and ‘A’ Level pass rates due to constant leakages of examination papers while discussing a motion introduced by Matobo North legislator Never Khanye (Zanu PF) calling on the government to act on malpractices affecting Zimsec.
Khanye proposed that Zimsec should be affiliated to the University of Zimbabwe to ensure quality.
“By so doing, we are going to reduce great mistakes which have been found in our examinations,” he said.
“For example, in 2013, there was a Ndebele Grade 7 paper which used the word umangumba literally meaning pfambi or prostitute.
“This to me is a serious offence to our national language Ndebele.”
Zimsec at the time defended the language used in the paper saying it had passed rigorous tests by Ndebele language experts.
Hurungwe West MP Temba Mliswa said Zimsec should have its own facilities to print exam papers so the body would have control over the examination process.
“The issue of examinations and the leakage of papers do not help as well because we then begin to question the pass rate in the country on how true it is, if we hear examination papers being leaked,” he said.
“Does it mean that the results that we are getting are not a true reflection of how pupils are preparing to write examinations or they are a reflection of that leakage which has happened? We need to seal and control, to confine that leakage,” he said.
According to Zimsec, the 2013 ‘O’ Level group recorded a pass rate of 18,4%, a drop from 2012’s 19,5% while the ‘A’ pass rate was 81,6%.
Khanye said some examination papers leak because headmasters use public transport, which is not reliable.
He suggested that funds raised during civvies’ day should be channelled towards providing secure transportation.
“Countless times, Zimsec has had leaked examinations which undermine their reputation,” he said.
“Headmasters carry examination papers on public transport. There is need for the ministry to take note of this, even with limited resources.
“Both the government and parents should try and assist Zimsec.
“Why do I say this? If schools can charge civvies money, why not utilise that money on transportation of their examination papers from the respective collection centres to their schools?”
MPs said by affiliating to the university, there would be proper monitoring of standards and procedures.
Bulawayo South MP Eddie Cross supported the motion saying there was need to build on Zimbabwe’s already superior education system.
“Our education system is among the best in Southern Africa and maybe in Africa,” he said.
“To me, elements in our education system are superior to South Africa.”