Outspoken robotics scientist and former Zimbabwe GNU Deputy Prime Minister Arthur G. O. Mutambara has come out guns blazing following a backlash after he exposed what he terms Academic Grade Inflation that has seen record number of O Level and A Level passes. According to Mutambara, it is very worrying and very questionable when more than 56% of students from the same school pass with three As at A’ level.
Many now say Mutambara may be very right given the chaos at schools over A level places as revealed in state media today!
A lot learners are reportedly still stranded after failing to secure a place for Lower 6 at some schools because a record number of pupils who sat for their Zimsec November 2019 ordinary level exams passed with flying colours.
Read Mutambara’s full response below:
On the subject of grade inflation, we must not deploy cheap, opportunistic and baseless decolonisation and anti-Western aspersions. The scourge of grade inflation must be addressed not to please outsiders but in pursuit of our national interest, period. Let me restate what needs to be done:
What is the way forward?
We can disregard any reference to elite or Ivy League Schools – Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, etc. – or any foreign interests for that matter. Grade inflation is bad for Zimbabwe, period. The case against grade inflation has nothing to do with trying to please elite or Ivy League Schools. Don’t hide behind cheap, primitive and unsophisticated decolonisation or anti-imperialism arguments. We have been independent for 40 years and running our own education system in those years. As free Zimbabweans – proud Africans – we have created this problem. We must solve it to please ourselves and nobody else.
We need to rethink, re-engineer, re-imagine and redesign ZIMSEC. We need creative, resourceful and imaginative
backed by sophistication in marking and grading. The lack of rigour and tenacity in both developing and grading the examinations are the key drivers of grade inflation. We need quality examiners who understand grade dynamics, all grounded in quality teaching and curriculum understanding. ZIMSEC must not tolerate inefficient and incompetent markers. Curriculum development, teaching and the examinations, thereafter, must be anchored in learners’ pursuit of competencies such as problem-solving, learning how to learn, mastering how to think, and blended learning; all rooted in a multidisciplinary approach to education.
We need to rethink, reimagine, re-engineer and redesign ZIMSEC. We need meaningful examination results which we can effectively use as a country and which also allow us to interface with other jurisdictions meaningfully. We must eliminate any elements of direct or indirect political interference which compromise the quality of our education system and its products. There should be no place for scoring cheap political mileage by awarding inflated grades. This is ruinous and detrimental to our children. We must protect the brand, opportunities and impact of our education products – our priceless human capital. In doing so, we can pick up lessons from other jurisdictions that have addressed the grade inflation challenge. Zimbabwe can fix this scourge. However, we must first accept that it exists. A problem realised is a problem half-solved.
We must jealously guard the globally renowned quality and efficacy of our entire education system from Primary School to Tertiary Education. We must find ways of restoring institutional and individual integrity, pride in good work ethics, discipline and quality work across the entire education sector.
Sorting out the mess and rot at ZIMSEC – the disgraceful and shameful grade inflation – is a national imperative.
Yes, we can solve this challenge in pursuit of our national interest.