THE Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) has revealed that a record 104 315 candidates registered for this year’s June ‘O’ Level examinations which is way above regional trends as the exams body attempts to shore up its credibility.
Zimsec said the new record cements its status of excellence in the Southern African region.
However, since taking over local exams from Cambridge in 1994, Zimsec has been under fire over recurring exam leakages putting a spotlight on its credibility.
“For the first time since the establishment of council, the Zimsec ‘O’ Level entries for June reached an all-time record of 104 315 candidates in 2014. Before this milestone, the highest June entries at ‘O’ Level entry were experienced in 2002 and 2003 when the entries were 80 514 and 80 005 respectively,” Zimsec director Esau Nhandara said in a statement.
“In 2013, the June ‘O’ Level entry was 97 788. This level of entry reflects the current and growing confidence which the nation and stakeholders at large now have of the Zimsec public school examinations. The landmark candidature over the 100 000 mark at 104 315 is both a reflection and affirmation of the momentum that Zimsec is gaining in its quest to become a centre of excellence within the sub region (Sadc) and beyond in quality assessment in education,” he added.
However, the record entries come against the backdrop of a 20,72% pass rate recoded in last year’s November examination which 285 260 candidates sat for compared to 268 854 in 2012.
Most June entries are for candidates not in the formal education set-up with most supplementing, particularly in English and Maths.
Zimsec figures indicate that those who sat for five subjects or more in 2013 numbered 173 856 and 36 031 scored a C or better in five subjects.
Nhandara said it was “even more interesting” when Zimsec 2014 June entries are compared with Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland and Zambia’s annual entries last year.
The Botswana Examination Council had 34 069 entries, Lesotho (13 398), Malawi (12 7383), Swaziland (55 572) and Zambia 106 956.
Last week, Primary and Secondary Education deputy minister Paul Mavhima said the government would not allow schools to offer Cambridge exams to the exclusion of Zimsec.