THE decision by the government to nullify results for the November 2017 Ordinary Level English Language Paper 2 and have it retaken by all students on February 16 has caused a lot of consternation among parents.
We believe Primary and Secondary Education minister Paul Mavima did not think through this decision as he should have done.
How possible is it for someone who spent four years preparing for an examination to be given a week’s notice to prepare for it and comply?
What of those who were at boarding schools, who will foot their bills? Does Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) bother? What of those now out of Zimbabwe?
Mavima should not experiment on the majority poor Zimbabweans children’s future simply because the Zanu PF elite’s children learn at expensive schools across the world using our sweat.
Nearly 17 years ago, then Education minister Edmund Garwe took his own life simply because he felt ashamed to have been involved in a Zimbabwe Junior Certificate examination paper leak after his daughter took it to school.
It is unfair to apportion blame that should rightly be shouldered by the floundering Zimsec to the students, many of whom had nothing to do with the leakage of the said paper before the writing of examinations.
Regrettably, examination leakages have become the norm ever since Zimsec took over the administration of national schools examinations from the United Kingdom-based Cambridge University.
In fact, this has happened year after year, which speaks to the calibre of individuals tasked with this important task. The security systems at Zimsec are clearly problematic and no doubt they need a complete overhaul.
But the critical thing is having all those students that wrote the exams go back to the desk, and this is something that human rights lawyers and civil society organisations need to take up. A class action is required in this case.
One wonders why Zimsec would punish those who were not involved in the leakages for the examination body’s own laxity.
The emergence of social media, which seems to have exacerbated the problem, has caught Zimsec napping in this digital era. And for a body that purports to be an educational body, it is tragic.
One would think, naturally, Zimsec would have been a step ahead in ensuring the security of their work.
Imagine the kind of hassles and inconveniences that going back to examination centres will come with given the huge number of students affected. In fact, this places such a huge emotional burden on the students and their parents or guardians because it effectively “stalls” their plans for the future.
This is besides the financial cost that comes with having students go back to school, particularly those who were at boarding schools that are far away from their homes. A new, efficient and properly-run examination body has never been more needed than now.
We would want Mavima to fire the Bindura University vice-chancellor Eddie Mwenje-led Zimsec board, Esau Nhandara and his top staffers, and, in its place, bring a new properly-run board, before he himself resigns or wait to be fired.
Or better still, now that Zimbabwe is slowly easing back into the community of nations after the departure of former President Robert Mugabe, government can consider having Cambridge University run the local examinations syndicate, again.
The honest truth is that Zimsec has dismally failed to run our examinations, and we must admit that we need a helping hand.
Mavima has no doubt failed his 100-day target through this scandal and he has no reason to remain in the job.