MASVINGO – The Zimbabwe National School Examination Council (Zimsec) could be put under further scrutiny after revelations that the November 2018 exams from grade seven right up to ‘A’ level were marred by irregularities.
The glitches ranged from non-inclusive questions, questions that diverged from the requirements of the new syllabus to different instructions between the specimen paper and the real exam papers.
Many anomalies were noted in both the ‘O’ and ‘A’ level Family and Religious Studies (FRS) examination papers, prompting the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) to raise the matter with the Zimsec board.
In a letter dated November 01, PTUZ secretary general Raymond Majongwe raises many issues including lack of coherence between the syllabus and the exams.
“We write this letter to complain about certain papers that have disadvantaged leaners in the current examination session. While the new curriculum exposes the leaners to four religions in the two year course which is commendable, the FRS 6074 Paper 1, written in November 2018 lacks validity and is not in line with the syllabus.
“We believe some of the mistakes that found their way into the paper are either a symptom of arrogance or incompetence on the part of the officer(s) who are in charge of setting the items or compilation or both.
“One major problem that we noted is that there is a difference between the specimen paper and the paper that came in the final examination,” reads part of the letter.
Both teachers and learners, the letter states, felt misled by the syllabus template as its guidelines did not do justice to them.
Moreover, the FRS 6074/1 specimen paper was two hours long but the actual paper was written in two hours 30 minutes. The specimen instructed pupils to choose four questions each carrying 25 marks but the actual paper required pupils to answer five questions.
In response, Zimsec said it took the issues raised seriously and will do thorough investigations.
“As the examination council, we do not take lightly these issues and are in the process of making investigations so as to respond to you accurately and timeously,” reads part of the response.
A Divinity teacher told TellZim News some of the pupils wrote four questions as had been advised by their teachers in the days before the exams while others noticed the inconsistency and answered five.
Another teacher said he suspected the typists did not sit down to plan the Divinity Paper 2 exam, but simply edited the paper 1 which required candidates to answer five structured questions, each with 20 marks, but then forgot to change the allocated time and the number of questions to be answered.
The paper also carried a recommendation for candidates not to spend more than 40 minutes on each question, meaning it would require a candidate who took the advice more than three hours to complete the paper.
A heritage studies ‘O’ level paper was labeled ‘A level’ and Zimsec had to send an erratum notifying schools about the mistake.
The ‘O’ level mathematics paper 1 had a question which required pupils to plot a graph but the points exceeded the size of the graph paper.
Grade seven teachers also complained about the English Paper 2 whose questions they claimed were not inclusive; with candidates being asked to write a composition either on poor service delivery at a hotel or the experiences of life at a farm.
“What did they expect children in rural areas who have never been at a hotel or at a farm to write about? There are also children in urban areas who do not even have the slightest idea of how hotel service works,” said one primary school teacher.
TellZim News reported a few weeks ago that the ‘O’ level Chemistry Paper 3 required pupils to use highly concentrated Ammonia which affected many student, teachers and lab technicians across the country, some of them suffering convulsions and asthmatic attacks.