Final year students sitting the ZIMSEC Ordinary Level and Advanced Level exams normally have two bites at the cherry – often splitting their subjects between the June and November sittings.
But ministers on Wednesday said the June examinations had been scrapped, and students who previously failed and wished to resit certain subjects should wait for the November examinations.
“Cabinet was advised that the Covid-19 pandemic that broke out in 2020 had negatively impacted on the timing and cycle of public examinations, with the 2020 Grade 7, O’ Level and A’ Level examinations having commenced in early December 2020 and ended in early February 2021, instead of the usual period stretching from October to November of each year,” information minister Monica Mutsvangwa told journalists following a Cabinet meeting.
“The delay in writing and the marking of the previous examinations has affected the preparation and the setting of the next examination hence the decision to temporarily suspend the June 2021 examinations.”
Mutsvangwa said the suspension of the June 2021 examination “will allow for timely focus on the November examination preparations and aid an effective focus of resources.”
“Logistics will be put in place to ensure that the candidates who may have wanted to sit for their examinations in June 2021 do so together with other students in November 2021,” Mutsvangwa added.
The marking of last November’s final exams has been affected by strikes by markers demanding payment of their allowances.
Teachers’ unions warned last week that they would start working a three-day week after talks over improved pay collapsed. The government offered a 70 percent pay rise between now and July, but unions say the new salary levels are a far cry from the US$540 they are demanding for the lowest paid.
Unions say teachers will only conduct lessons between Monday and Wednesday, and then sit out Thursdays and Fridays. Public service minister Professor Paul Mavhima has threatened to dock pay for the days not worked – setting the stage for bruising clashes with union leaders.