1.0 RESULTS FOR THE GRADE 12 CANDIDATES
The Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) would like to commend the Ministry of General Education for releasing the Grade 12 examination results in good time. We are particularly pleased with the high pass rates in English, Mathematics, Social Sciences, Religious Education and Business Studies. The relatively high pupil performance recorded in technical schools and ordinary government schools is also commendable as most of our vulnerable children are enrolled in these schools.
However, ZANEC notes with great disappointment the increased number of candidates who were absent from the Grade 12 examinations estimated at 1,916, with Northwestern Province accounting for the highest number. As a Coalition, we attribute this to the two main weaknesses in our education system.
- The ill preparedness of the pupils due to lack of meaningful teaching and learning taking place in our classrooms. Most of our pupils are progressing to Grade 12 without acquiring the relevant educational competences and mastery of the various subject contents. The only reason they get to Grade 12 is that they have been in school for 12 years. As a result, very few of them are confident enough to face the examinations.
- The enhanced security during the 2018 examinations. The stringent security measures that the Ministry put in place during the 2018 Grade 12 examinations should be commended. The measures contributed to the significant reduction in suspected cases of examination malpractices from 217 in 2017 to 77 cases in 2018. The resultant effect of this was that pupils who were hoping to smuggle examination materials in the examination rooms as well as those who were planning to write for other pupils by way of impersonation had no option but to stay away from writing the examinations.
The Coalition is also concerned with the decrease in performance by the Grade 12 Candidates who obtained certificates from 64.84% in 2017 to 63.44% in 2018 as well as the reduced mean performance in science from 43.58% in 2017 to 34.32 in 2018. In order address this problem, government will need place a premium on the recommendations made by the stakeholders on the improvement of the quality of education in Zambia at the education transformation Conference launched by the two Ministers of General Education and Higher Education at Mulungushi International Conference center on 16th January 2019. Just to mention a few of the recommendations made are;
- The need to increase funding to the Education and Skills Development Sector to at least 27% of the national budget in order to ensure that all our schools are better resourced and equipped.
- There is also urgent need to review the relevance of the current curriculum which still promotes passing through memorization instead of promoting competencies relating to the acquisition of relevant practical skills.
- The Ministry also needs to urgently reduce the number of subjects that our children are taking as some of them do not add any value to the learners’ future prospects of contributing to socio-economic development.
- The Ministry must improve the quality of school managements at primary and secondary school level by making appointments competitive, on merit and performance based. Currently, there is no clear career path towards one becoming a head teacher at secondary or primary school levels.
- There is also need to introduce continuous assessments that can help in assessing the competencies of pupils to either progress or not progress to the next Grade.
2.0 RECRUITMENT OF TEACHERS TO BE DEPLOYED IN MADAGASCAR
The Zambia National Education Coalition would like to thank the President for responding favourable to the request for 500 English teachers by the Madagascan President. Currently, Zambia has enough trained teachers that can benefit from such opportunities. As we are aware, there are about 27,000 qualified teachers who are currently looking for employment against our annual recruitment target of 2,000 teachers. Our hope as ZANEC is that the Ministry of General Education will put in place some effective measures that will ensure that only the most deserving candidates are selected. As confirmed by the Hon. Minister of General Education, ZANEC is hoping that the selection process is going to be transparent and consider the gender balance so that only deserving teachers will benefit from this opportunity. The teachers that we are going to send to Madagascar will need to be good ambassadors of our Country if we are to have more teachers benefiting from this opportunity in future.
Our concern however is that if government is going to send serving teachers to Madagascar, as we did to Seychelles, we need to be cautious to ensure that we don’t deprive our own children of the best quality of teachers that are currently serving us. As you are aware, we also do not have enough teachers in some of our public schools, let alone in community schools where majority of our teachers are untrained and working as volunteers. It is therefore our considered view that government should ensure that such opportunities are able to earn our Country some revenue which we can use to invest in our teachers back home in order to improve the quality of our education system.