With only a few days left until Ordinary and Advanced Level students sit their final exams, reports that Bulawayo police are investigating a case of papers that reportedly disappeared in the trailer of a commuter omnibus are not only worrying, but leave a lot to be desired in terms of supervision.
Report By Editor, NewsDay
Ever since the transfer of the running of public exams to the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) from Cambridge, there have been many cases of leakages. This has left the locally-run board found wanting security-wise.
Six Ordinary Level papers — including English, Mathematics, Geography, Ndebele, Integrated Science and Commerce set for November 2012 — went missing and this raises questions about who is in charge.
The incident raises questions about how the papers are transferred from the Zimsec offices to the centres and from there to schools, most of them in rural areas.
Most of the school heads tasked with the onerous task of transferring the papers to their schools have no vehicles of their own and make use of public transport for the task and no one would need to be reminded of the risks associated with that.
In this case, acting Sijawuke Secondary School headmaster Panganai Zimhuno is said to have taken the exam papers to his home in Bulawayo and slept there before going to board a kombi to the school the following morning.
How absurd not only for the school head to do that, but for Zimsec to allow it to happen.
To make matters worse and to confirm the seriously worrying lack of security, the box containing the exam papers was put
inside the kombi’s trailer on his way back to the school the following day.
How an official is allowed to sleep at his home with such confidential documents remains a mystery. There is no doubt that documents such as examination papers should not be transported on public transport, let alone in a trailer.
Security of papers should be of utmost priority. This is recklessness of the highest order and is a reflection of what is happening on the ground.
To put it simply, it is a replica of what is happening throughout the country, thanks to Zimsec.
Such maladministration over important material brings the quality of our education system into disrepute.
While Zimsec can argue that this doesn’t happen often, there is need for the examination body to tighten its examination paper distribution mechanisms.
The use of public vehicles to move documents around should be banned. In fact, it must be the duty of Zimsec to ensure the proper and secure delivery of all exam papers.
It’s not good enough for them to simply transport the papers to provincial centres after which the responsibility lies with the headmasters.