Cloud hangs over Zimbabwe schools June exams

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Dates for the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) 2020 June examinations will be determined at the end of the lockdown period, it has been learnt.

Learners are worried that the exams might be postponed to pave way for the current fight against the coronavirus, while of teacher representative bodies are split on whether or not the exams should proceed.

Writing of Zimsec mid-year exams normally begins at the end of May.

Government imposed a 21-day national lockdown, which ends on April 19, to limit movements and, therefore, curtail the spread of the virus.

Primary and secondary schools had already been instructed to close earlier than scheduled as part of the unprecedented far-reaching measures to avoid infections.

Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education Mrs Tumisang Thabela said the outcome of the 21-day national lockdown would inform the way forward on the June examinations.

“For now it is a bit premature to talk about postponing the exams whilst we are still in the lockdown. We will be guided by the evidence in front of us once the lockdown is over.”

But preparations are still continuing.

The country’s primary and secondary schools examinations body says the window to register for the exams has since been extended to accommodate learners who might have been inconvenienced by the current restrictions.

In a statement, Zimsec said it would be guided by the outcome of the lockdown, with late June registrations set to be accommodated in the November sittings.

“Zimsec, like any other institution, is not privy to what will happen after the 21 days of the lockdown, but would like its valued stakeholders to know that a window for the registration for November 2020 examinations will be provided when the lockdown is lifted,” read part of the statement.

Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Dr Takavafira Zhou said postponing the June examinations will be unfair to the candidates as most have had ample time to prepare.

“It is too early to make that decision now given that we are in a lockdown. Remember, schools were closed March, meaning most of the candidates had enough time to prepare for these examinations,” he said.

“So it will be unfair to postpone the examinations. We have a precedent of 2008, where children only had classes for 48 days and they still passed. I do not see any harm in not postponing the exams; if postponed, then they should be moved to July or early August.”

Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (ZIMTA) secretary-general Mr Tapson Sibanda disagrees.

“Although it is not certain yet as to what will happen in the next few days, we are advocating for the postponement of the exams since candidates did not have enough time to prepare,” he said.

“However, we would like to applaud the Government for extending the registration dates.”

Some private colleges have postponed exams until next year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This follows the cancellation of both June and November Cambridge international exams for 2020 due the coronavirus pandemic. – Sunday Mail