In the pursuit of giving candidates enough time to complete the school syllabi before writing, the Zimsec November 2020 public examinations could be postponed to January 2021, it has emerged.

The latest developments come in the wake of the Covid19 pandemic which has adversely impacted on the schools calendar amid a national lockdown which has resulted in the delay of the reopening of schools.

Schools which prematurely closed on March 24, barely four days after the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, are yet to reopen after cabinet last week deferred the planned reopening tentatively set for July 28 following a successful court challenge by teacher unions.

And, according to Zimsec chairperson Professor Eddie Mwenje, examinations will only be written when students have completed the syllabus and when it is safe to do so, even if it means pushing the examinations to December this year or January next year.

Prof Mwenje

Professor Mwenje said dates for the examinations which are traditionally written in November, will only be announced after consultations with various stakeholders.

“We are finalising the writing of June examinations, which are going on very well and will be completed next week. As soon as the June exams are done, we will start printing the November examination question papers. However, once the President announces new opening dates, we will sit down with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education so that we come up with dates for the examinations. November 2020 examinations will be written, but they will only be written when pupils have completed the syllabus and when it is safe to do so, even if it means the examinations will be written in December or January next year,” he said.

Prof Mwenje told state media that Zimsec would not compromise the quality and substance of Zimbabwe’s education by lowering the pass mark for students to score better grades. According to him, the country’s examinations regulatory body will ensure that the syllabus is completed before students sit for exams.

He also added that the public examinations body was also aware that schools did not have ample time to prepare their students for November.

“Remember, some of these students will be going to tertiary institutions, they have to be properly examined and given the right grade. That is why we are saying there is a possibility that the examinations may be written in December or January next year. However, all this will be finalised when we meet with the ministry when reopening dates are announced,” said Professor Mwenje.

On the other hand, Primary and Secondary Education deputy minister Edgar Moyo said the setting of examination dates were dependant on the reopening of schools.

“It is a bit difficult to know the exact dates of opening schools at the moment given the current trends of Covid-19 local transmissions. These trends will largely guide when schools will open. Unlike the June examinations, November examinations need a lot of preparation, so examination classes will be given sufficient time to prepare. We will have to work the dates around their schedule,” he said.

According to revered educationist Dr Cephas Nziramasanga, it was important for candidates to have at least three months of learning time before sitting for public examinations.

“Students have already lost over five months of learning, so they need about three months with the teachers before sitting for the exams. Learning is done when student and teacher meet physically, that is why I think online learning is fictitious and besides, the majority of students do not have access to online learning. So there is a need for students to have time with teachers before sitting for exams. However, going forward Government should adopt continuous assessment, which was recommended in the Nziramasanga Commission. It is a system that enables students to be tested while learning and this exerts less pressure on final examinations and would come in handy in such situations,” he said.

state media
Additional Reporting: Zwnews