Government announces timeline for public exams




Edgar Moyo

PUBLIC examinations will start at the end of November for Grade Seven candidates while Ordinary and Advanced Level pupils will start writing in mid-December overlapping into 2022.

Government has previously stated that it is possible to write public examinations this year, despite disruptions to the school calendar caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year schools were supposed to open in early January for the first term but ended up reopening in March due to the threat caused by the virus.

Schools then closed on June 4 and were set to open on June 28 but the re-opening was postponed. Schools were eventually re-opened on August 30 for examination classes and September 6 for the rest of the classes.

Due to the pandemic, school holidays have been prolonged, leaving learners with limited time to have face-to-face lessons with their teachers. Schools have been relying more on virtual lessons and radio lessons which some learners have failed to access.

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education introduced catch up strategies to bring learners up to date.

This includes blended learning and teachers can combine some topics and also target certain key topics in order to compress the syllabus, and online learning.

Responding to questions in Parliament on Wednesday, Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Edgar Moyo said in the meantime, catch up strategies have been put in place to prepare learners. He said frantic efforts were being made to ensure that learners will be ready for the exams.

“The examination dates have only been given so far as when they are going to begin and that is end November for Grade Sevens. Mid-December, we are going to have the O and A levels which are going to overlap into 2022. We think our children would have been prepared for examinations by that time. With regards to the point that children have lost time, we are employing catch up strategies to ensure that the children do catch up and one of them is through blended learning where we are using different learning and teaching platforms,” he said.

“Inclusive of that is going to be materials that are going to be given to children. Some of them have been given those materials and e-learning is also underway so that they do catch up.”

Deputy Minister Moyo said in order to cater for learners that did not have access to online learning, modules and study packs have been distributed to schools which do not have network or signal.

He said the Education Ministry was aware that there was a shortage of teaching staff in some schools and efforts to address the matter were underway.

Deputy Minister Moyo said a human resources deployment strategy was in the place to try and address the challenge.

The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) has said it is ready for the examinations.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) chief executive officer, Dr Sifiso Ndlovu said exams could be written starting at the end of November but there was need for exam papers to be set according to what learners would have been taught.

“Learners have to be assessed on what they have covered and exam papers should be set according to that. Another issue is on CALAs (Continuous Leaners Assessments), this is a long process of course work and considering limited learning time learners can be assessed in one activity,” he said.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) President, Dr Takavafira Zhou recently said exams could only be written next year as pupils needed three months of uninterrupted time of learning in order to cover the time lost through lockdown.

He said learners should write exams around mid-January to February next year. He also said exams could only be written when teachers had completed their syllabi.- Chronicle