Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) is happy that the Minister of General Education (MoGE) has announced new dates for writing the examinations for grade 7, 9 and 12 that were on suspension. The move that the Ministry of General Education (MoGE) made was commendable and demonstrated that they are committed to their responsibility of preserving the quality of our education system. However, we are delighted that the announcement has been made for the examinations to be written because if the suspension was delayed it was going to affect the parents financially as well as the Examination Council of Zambia (ECZ).
The issue of examination malpractice is a sign of moral decay in our society. Although we always blame the Ministry of General Education as the custodian of all examinations, the concerned pupils and their parents should also bear the share of the blame. It is the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children study hard and prepare adequately for their examinations. In most cases, it is the deviant children who are not committed to their studies who end up searching for leakages sometimes with the financial help of their parents.
Another possible cause of malpractices is the lack of resources to ensure security of the examination papers when distributing them from the national level, district level and then school level. From experience, ZANEC has learnt that after the Examinations Council of Zambia has delivered the examination materials at district level, the District Education Board Secretaries (DEBS) have struggled to find funds for taking examination materials to their respective schools. As a result, the DEBS sometimes depends on the good will of the concerned school managements to have the examination materials delivered at school level. As a result, unsafe modes of transport such as ox-carts, canoes and bicycles are sometime used to carry examination materials to schools. This could be the source of compromise in securing examination papers. ZANEC therefore recommends that the Ministry of Finance releases adequate funding to the Ministry of Education for the administration of examinations.
Currently, the performance of managers at all levels is based on the number of learners that pass examinations at all levels. Although this is important, it puts pressure on PEOs, DEBS and School Managers to ensure that the learners pass their examination. The Ministry should therefore put measures to ensure that schools continue to pursue good results using legitimate means.
We hope that the stakeholders have learnt a lesson from the examinations that were suspended. Additionally, all stakeholders that are under investigations when found guilty of being involved in leakages should be dealt with severely by the law to serve as an example to deter others from involving themselves in examination malpractices.
Finally, ZANEC is of the view that government needs to convene a stakeholders’ consultative meeting to look at the causes of examination malpractices and find a lasting solution to it. This will help in addressing the root causes of examination malpractices and help preserve the confidence that we all have in our education system.