BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
TEACHERS’ unions have called on the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) to defer its June and November 2021 public examinations following the COVID-19-induced disruption of the school calendar which suspended in-person lessons for the better part of last year and this year.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in March last year, normal schooling has not taken place as the country went on hard lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus.
Students usually sit for the Zimsec examination in June and November
In June this year, schools were closed for the first term and government is yet to announce a date for their reopening for the second term, but preparations are underway.
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou yesterday said it would be irresponsible for authorities to frog-march students into examinations given the disruptions they have experienced.
“The possibility of 2021 candidates writing examinations this year is minimal. With schools likely to open from mid-September 2021, examinations can only be written in early 2022 after three months of intensive learning,” he said.
“Such learning requires motivation for teachers. They must be given better salaries so that they work harder to protect the education system from going into dysfunctionality. Government should address the disparities between teachers and the rest of civil servants, where an underqualified ordinary government worker is earning more than a trained teacher,” Zhou said.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure suggested that examinations be postponed to March next year.
“If our examinations are for genuine performance evaluation, they should be postponed until our learners have covered the syllabus. March 2022 will be ideal for examinations to cater for lost learning time. We should desist from the tick-the-box-mentality and focus on genuinely evaluating learner exit profiles,” Masaraure said.
Zimbabwe National Teachers’ Union chief executive Manuel Nyawo said: “Rural children have not had an opportunity to learn reasonably to prepare them for public examinations. Given that we are not also sure when this COVID-19 pandemic is going to end, with rumours that a fourth variant is imminent, it is only prudent that examinations be pushed to February next year to give learners ample time to learn and grasp concepts for their current grades and forms.”
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu also said postponement of examinations would be ideal.
“Apart from writing of the examinations, we are urging the government to consider postponing implementation of the continuous assessment learning areas (CALAs) programme so that learners and teachers intensively focus on completing the outstanding areas of the syllabi and be ready for the 2021 examinations. Implementation of the CALA programme is a hurried decision which disrupts proper learning in schools,” Ndlovu said.
Government seeks to implement the CALA programme which will see pupils doing projects and tasks in school. The marks for the projects will constitute 30% of their coursework for the final examination for each subject.
Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said government was yet to get recommendations from Zimsec on the way forward.
“Government is cognisant of the importance of public examinations, but as the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, we get recommendations from Zimsec on the way forward,” Ndoro said.