Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) has noted that the grade nine (9) examination results have been released in good time despite the delay in writing caused by examination malpractices which led to the postponement of the examinations.
It is, however, disappointing to note that the number of Grade nine (9) learners that obtained certificates were only 116,616 out of 255,449 representing 45.65% of the total candidates who sat for the examinations. This means that 54.35% failed to make full certificates. Furthermore, the number of the learners that have made certificates and qualified to grade 10 has decreased by 9.54% from 2017 where 162, 539 candidates qualified to Grade 10. This is retrogressive to the development of our education system.
The sad reality from the 2018 results is that there is a great likelihood that the postponement of the examinations had a bearing on the performance of pupils as well as on the number of candidates who sat for examinations. Therefore, leakages must be condemned by all well-meaning Zambians. As ZANEC, we reiterate that the issue of examination malpractices 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 learners 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.
ZANEC further notes with sadness that the number of learners that were absent from writing the Grade nine (9) examinations (29, 074 which is 10.22%) is too high. We agree with the Ministry of General Education that learners’ absenteeism from examinations is a waste of national resources that government spends in printing and distributing examination papers. However, we wish to state that the sudden postponement of the examinations, although unavoidable, is also a cause of this absenteeism. This may especially be the case for our rural areas where learners live far from the schools and were as a result not adequately communicated to on the new examination dates. There is need for concerted effort in finding a lasting solution to reduce learner absenteeism from writing examinations.
ZANEC is however happy to note that all the Grade seven (7) examination candidates managed to progress to Grade 8 which is a step in the right direction. We congratulate government for progressively increasing the number of Junior secondary schools as this has helped increase access at this level, thereby reducing the number of out of school children in Zambia. There is need for government to replicate this at Grade 9 level in order to increase the progression rate from junior to senior secondary school level.
Finally, ZANEC would like to recommend the following to the Ministry of General Education;
- There is need for increased investment in the vocational skills career pathway introduced in the 2014 Revised Curriculum in order to ensure that all Grade 9 examination candidates who cannot progress in the academic career pathway are absorbed accordingly.
- Government should support the upgrading of all the junior secondary schools to senior secondary school level to enable all Grade 9 examination candidates who obtain certificates to progress to Grade 10.
- The Ministry should also introduce competence based examinations which are important in the assessment of the readiness of pupils to progress to the next grade. That way, only competent pupils who are ready to progress to Grade 9 will be admitted in Grade 9 and allowed to sit for examinations thereby increasing the prospects of having all the examination candidates passing their Grade 9 examinations.
- There is urgent need for government to increase funding towards early childhood development as it plays a major role in preparing our children for formal learning. Current research evidence shows that children who go through ECD perform well in examinations.
- The Ministry should also deploy qualified teachers in all community schools in order to give the children the same education opportunity that children in public schools have since all the children write the same examination.
- The Ministry of General Education should put in place some stringent measures that will help in eliminating the recurrence of the 2018 examinations malpractices.