CHAOS marred the start of the 2023 Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations yesterday with some centres receiving question papers late after the body implemented a new system to plug leakages.
NewsDay was informed that the distribution nightmares came after the examinations body ordered for question papers and answer sheets to being delivered on the day the paper is sat for as it moves to plug the leakages that have characterised previous examinations.
Teachers and other school administrators yesterday accused Zimsec of lacking logistical capabilities of distributing question papers on the same day.
Several countrywide reports indicated that some schools experienced long delays in receiving question papers.
O’ Level learners yesterday sat for Mathematics Paper 1 before writing their English Paper 1.
A source at Zimsec yesterday said several schools were affected by delays and lack of answer sheets.
“As we speak, at about 3pm l have received a report that at Herbert Chitepo Secondary School along the Harare-Bulawayo Highway, the school had not yet received its English Paper 1 material,” the source said.
“Several schools were affected by delays and lack of answer sheets with Chiweshe Secondary School and some in the Muzarabani district in Mashonaland Central affected. We have also reports of schools in Mhondoro-Ngezi which have been affected.”
Delays were also recorded in Marondera West, Mashonaland East province.
“Confusion at its best, candidates who had been informed that they would write at their satellite centres at the last minute are travelling to registered centres as far as 20 kilometres, but last year sat for the examinations at the satellite centres,” another source said.
Educators Union of Zimbabwe president Tapedza Zhou said it was regrettable that Zimsec failed to plan ahead of the examinations.
“We are aware of the changes made to the delivery of exam papers to curb leakages and the intention is commendable. What is regrettable is Zimsec failing to plan and secure adequate resources for a critical process like this one,” Zhou said.
“Preparations began after last examinations and the disorder that we see does not present the integrity of Zimsec, neither does such disorder reflect seriousness over the education and examination of all the learners across the country.”
Amalgamated Rural Teachers of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said the first day of the examinations were chaotic, which he said pointed to Zimsec’s logistical incapacity.
“The new system is a disaster. It was predictable that the examination process would be chaotic given the limited logistical capacity of Zimsec. A wrong prescription was proffered to address exam leakages,” Masaraure said.
“The leakages were not rampant on stations, but at Zimsec head office. Zimsec should quickly revert to the old model of delivering examination material at least a day before examinations at all stations.
“Examination schools must also deliver to satellite schools on the day of writing since most satellite schools don’t have the capacity to secure material. It is unacceptable. The anxieties associated with the delays affect learners particularly in rural areas.”
Zimsec spokesperson Nicholette Dhlamini, however, said examinations started well across the country.
“We did not encounter any problems,” she said.
The chaos recorded yesterday came a day after NewsDay revealed that some fraudsters were selling Zimsec question papers ahead of the examinations.
Zimsec confirmed the development saying the matter was being investigated although it distanced itself from the exam material being sold on the market.
Hundreds of learners were last year arrested and arraigned before the courts after several question papers leaked and were shared on social media platforms.
The problems affecting Zimsec have been cited as denting the credibility of the country’s education system.