The Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) is happy that the Grades 7 and 9 examination results are out as announced by the Minister of General Education Honourable Dr. Dennis Wanchinga MP in a joint statement on the release of the 2020 Internal Examination Results.
The Ministry of General Education (MoGE) should also be commended for sustaining learning for examination classes in 2020 amidst the COVID 19 pandemic. The Ministry showed all of us how much education means to our country even during the COVID 19 pandemic. We are aware of the education crisis that is looming in some neighboring countries that decided to keep their schools closed after recording COVID 19 cases. The statistics also show that there was an improvement in the number of Grade 9 candidates that passed the examinations in 2020, which is good. For instance, we are glad that 53.09% of the Grade 9 candidates that sat for the examinations passed, representing an increase of 7 percentage points in performance when compared to the pass rate of 46.14 percent recorded in the 2019 examination.
We are also aware that because of the current Automatic Progression Policy, the 2020 Grade 7 national progression rate was pegged at 100 percent as was the case in 2019. This means that all the 403, 445 candidates who sat the 2020 Grade 7 Composite Examination will progress to grade 8. However, although ZANEC’s interest is to have all children of school going age enrolled in our schools, the Automatic Progression Policy in current form needs to be re-examined and changed. For instance, the December 2018 report by OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment showed that only 5% of our Grade 7 learners demonstrate minimum proficiency in literacy. This means that by having the Automatic Progression Policy, we are allowing children in Grade 7 who cannot read and write to progress to Grade 8. ZANEC would like to advise the Ministry of General Education to consider changing this Policy so that such children can either repeat or progress through the vocational career path.
Finally, we are grateful that the Ministry has given ample time to parents and guardians to prepare for their Grades 8 and 10 children by setting the opening of schools on 1st March 2021. This is important especially that ZANEC is concerned that most parents of late have neglected their obligation to pay school fees, thereby making the running of schools amidst the COVID 19 pandemic very difficult by school managements.