The Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC) has failed to shake off perennial controversy after the start of the 2023 examination calendar was marred by failure to distribute requisite materials to centres on time, thereby prompting delays in sittings.
This comes after ZIMSEC resorted to delivering examination material on the day a paper is sat for in a move to curb leakages experienced in previous years.
In Mashonaland West province some public schools and private colleges certified as ZIMSEC exam centres, received examination materials late, a situation which saw candidates having to endure lengthy delays which caused unnecessary anxiety and panic.
In a snap survey conducted by NewZimbabwe.com, at Chinhoyi High School, the ‘O’ Level English Paper 1 examinations started at 1530 hours instead of the official 1400 hours.
The situation was the same at Victoria College located in Chinhoyi’s light industrial sites, where candidates began writing the English exam way out of the scheduled time although most confirmed they were allowed to complete it in the permissible time frames.
“Sitting for the English Paper 1 was delayed by nearly two hours as we only started writing around 1545 hours. The unfortunate situation caused panic and unnecessary anxiety among candidates which might affect results.
“It is our hope ZIMSEC puts its house in order and avoid a repeat of delays,” said a candidate at Victoria College.
According to sources, delays were also witnessed across Mashonaland West province, and other regions.
Some parents and teachers, who spoke to this publication, raised fears the unexplained delays could affect the quality of results learners will produce and bring to question ZIMSEC’s credibility to administer flawless exam sessions.
Efforts to get a comment from ZIMSEC spokesperson, Nicky Dhlamini were fruitless by the time of publishing.
Meanwhile, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has blasted ZIMSEC for corruptly centralising procurement of exam materials, which they are failing to do timeously and have resulted in a month’s postponement of sitting of practical examinations.
“In a desperate bid to cash in on procurement of examination materials,@zimsecOFFICIAL centralised procurement of all materials for science practicals. Same way procurement of sanitary pads was centralised. Now they can’t supply the materials and exams have to be postponed,” ARTUZ posted on X yesterday.
According to a ZIMSEC circular dated October 13, 2023, the ‘O’ Level Combined Science Practical Examination has been moved by over a month due to logistical challenges.
“This circular serves to advise all heads of examination centres, candidates and parents and guardians that the November ZGCE Ordinary Level Combined Science Practical Examination, which was scheduled for Wednesday 19 October 2023 has been rescheduled to Wednesday 29 November 2023.
“Heads of exam centres are required to advise candidates accordingly to ensure that no candidate misses the examination,” reads the director’s circular number 01 of 2023.
ZIMSEC is not new to controversy this time of the year amid recurring exam delays, paper leaks and other shenanigans.
Teachers’ unions have blamed ZIMSEC examination management shortcomings on “structural and ethical decay.”
ARTUZ pointed to a rotten education system and poor remuneration as major contributors to the challenge.
ZIMSEC’s mandate is to administer and play a watchdog role over national Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations in the country.