via Nziramasanga debate rages on | The Herald August 24, 2015
A PROPOSAL by Dr Caiphas Nziramasanga to do away with Grade 7 and O-Level examinations has sparked fierce debate among educationists and parents with many slamming the controversial suggestion.
Dr Nziramasanga told participants at a Bindura University of Science Education public lecture that the two exams were now irrelevant and costly for Government.
He chaired the 1999 Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training which offered wide-ranging recommendations to revamp the country’s education system.
In an interview last week, Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Professor Paul Mavima said Government had no plans to do away with the examinations.
“Grade 7 and O-Level examinations will stay as they remain a necessity for the cognitive development of pupils in measuring their readiness for secondary learning. However, we can adopt continuous assessment as a complement to that which exists already,” he said.
Education Coalition Zimbabwe director Mr Maxwell Rafomoyo had similar views.
“For our education system to be where it is today, we give credit to the same summative evaluation, hence these exams should stay,” he said.
“Continuous assessment requires a lot of resources. It will require us to retrain teachers to meet changing needs and technological developments. We do not have the capacity to ensure that all teachers and students get the same services to remain relevant.”
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe president Dr Takavafira Zhou said the country’s education system had depended heavily on recommendations of the Nziramasanga Commission for a long time and new ideas were now needed to address problems faced by the sector.
“Times have changed and we cannot continue depending on the cataracts of a 15-year old commission. Our system should be open to constructive change,” he said.
Dr Zhou urged teachers to embrace the teaching for life approach and not rush pupils through an exam-driven syllabus.
“We need our students to be educated, not learned hence teachers need to adopt an approach of teaching for success in life, not success in examinations only,” he said.
“We are tired of reports on teachers who end up teaching Form 3 syllabuses to students in Form 1. It only proves that our education system is roped in a crisis of exam-driven curriculum.”
However, Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive Mr Sifiso Ndlovu supported Dr Nziramasanga’s proposal on continuous assessment saying Grade 7 and O-Level national examinations were a waste of time and resources.