No CALAs, no exam results… as 1800 pupils, teachers recover from Covid-19

Source: No CALAs, no exam results… as 1800 pupils, teachers recover from Covid-19 | The Sunday News

No CALAs, no exam results… as 1800 pupils, teachers recover from Covid-19
Mr Taungana Ndoro

Gabriel Masvora and Judith Phiri, Sunday News Reporters
NEARLY 1800 pupils and teachers who contracted Covid-19 when schools opened last month have recovered from the disease, in another milestone that shows how the country has continued its top tier management of the pandemic.

Schools reopened on 30 August for examination classes and on 6 September for all the other classes after a long break that was necessitated by lockdowns announced to curb the spread of the disease.

As has been before when school opened post Covid-19 lockdown, a number of the learning institutions, especially boarding schools, recorded cases of Covid-19.

Among some of the schools where cases were reported were in Mberengwa District in the Midlands where 311 pupils and teachers from six schools tested positive for Covid-19 in the first week of the opening.

Government reacted quickly and conducted mass testing at the schools while also putting the institutions under strict quarantine.

Director of Information and Advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mr Taungana Ndoro told Sunday News yesterday that 1979 pupils and teachers across the country have recovered from the disease since  schools opened.

“The figures are as at 12 October, we continue to ensure that schools follow proper guidelines in the prevention of Covid-19,” he said.

Mr Ndoro said figures of active cases at schools were now very low and were still being collated.

The positive news comes as examinations classes have stepped up the continuous assessment learning activities (CALAs) ahead of public examinations as Government has indicated that pupils who will not be able to carry out the projects will not get their results.

In line with the new competence-based curriculum introduced in 2017, CALAs is a new assessment that requires learners to perform and to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and proficiency. It presents a situation that calls for learners to apply their learning in context, with research projects being done.

The model embraces a combination of continuous assessment (CA). Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Edgar Moyo told Sunday News that students will not get their examination results if they do not have CALAs marks.

“Government is going ahead with implementation of CALAs, which is now a policy. For students to get full marks they should have done CALAs, if not, they will not get the examination results. The dates have already been set with examinations set to begin on 29 November,” he said.

CALAs form part of the weighted contribution to learner performance outcome at Grade 7, Form 4 and Upper 6 final examination. It is the assessment of a pupil’s progress throughout a course of the study rather than exclusively by examination at the end of it.

According to the policy framework, the new grading system will see Grade 7 final results determined by 30 percent of continuous assessment and 70 percent on national examinations.

At Form 4, the framework states that learners’ grades will be based on 40 percent for theoretical examination, 30 percent for practical examination and 30 percent for continuous assessment. For Advanced level, continuous assessment carries 30 percent with the bulk of the marks going to the final examination.

The Deputy Minister said that the continuous assessment framework ultimately sets out what learners are expected to know and be able to do as a direct result of their learning in schools and non-formal education, starting from early childhood development (ECD) to secondary level. He said the concept emphasises the assessment of knowledge, skills, abilities, values and trends to ascertain the achievement of desired learner exit profiles at any level.

“At the moment it only applies to examination classes. The continuous assessment accords teachers,facilitators the opportunity to participate fully in the assessment of their learners. Learners have to carry out three CALAs per learning area for the current year,” he added.

Hon Moyo said students who had dropped out due to getting pregnant during the lockdowns or had ventured into illegal mining, should be readmitted to schools. Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister who is also Matobo North Member of Parliament (MP) said that there was need to develop more dams in areas which are mountainous to cater for the unavailability of water.

“Most partners want to drill boreholes but in areas like Nathisa which are rocky, it is difficult to find water. One partner, a businessman in Bulawayo tried to drill a borehole for a local secondary school but at 70 metres they hit a rock and no water was found.

Instead of wasting money it could be used to do dams utilising run off water from the mountains. Then we develop more irrigation schemes that use water from the dams,” he said.

He said working with commercial farmer Mr Peter Cunningham and Turning Matabeleland Green (TMG), they were in the process of constructing one dam three kilometres from Nathisa.

“Once more dams are constructed, we are looking at setting up community nutrition gardens where people can plant cash crops to generate income.” However, he said in most areas in Kezi, boreholes could be drilled easily.