ZIMSEC battles to plug question paper leakages

Zimbabwe’s school examinations system is under siege from cheats who are getting access to question papers prior to the date of writing, prompting authorities to rope in the police to fight the scourge.

Question papers leak almost every examination time in June and November, despite several culprits being arrested and arraigned before the courts of law.

Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) spokesperson Nicky Dlamini told Xinhua Monday that the examinations body was concerned about the leakages and would do everything possible to protect the integrity of the school examinations system.

ZIMSEC and school authorities have blamed each other for the leakages, with ZIMSEC insisting that the leakages occur outside its offices and at the schools.  One teachers’ union also attributed leakages to poor conditions of service which led some teachers to engage in corruption in a bid to survive.

More than 100 students and several teachers and members of the public have been arrested on allegations of participating in leakages for the Nov. 22 public examinations for Ordinary Level, with candidates allegedly sharing the questions on social media.

In one of the latest cases taken to court, a deputy headmaster and an English teacher at a school in Tsholotsho District, Matabeleland North Province, pleaded guilty to charges of criminal abuse of duty after they leaked an English examination paper to selected candidates at their school.

Tsholotsho Magistrate Victor Mpofu sentenced the two to three years in jail each, 18 months of which were, however, commuted to community service while the other 18 months were suspended on the condition of good behaviour.

Another teacher also appeared before another magistrate in the same district for allegedly getting the questions of a Mathematics examination through a mobile phone and revising them with his students prior to them sitting for the paper.  In other incidents, school teachers and other members of the public have written examinations on behalf of some candidates.

School administrators and their members of staff are said to be involved in these practices in a bid to boost the pass rates at their institutions, particularly at private colleges seeking to attract more students.

ZIMSEC has said all those who are caught cheating will have their results nullified, while authorities are seeking the amendment of the school examinations law to impose stiffer penalties on perpetrators.

Even at some universities, some examinations have had to be rescheduled after suspicions that question papers could have leaked.

A policeman is currently out on bail after he was allegedly found with a leaked question paper for a Bachelor of Laws examination.

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