By Shingirai Vambe
Attaining 15 points after writing three subjects or 20 points after sitting for four subjects at Advanced Level has been a dream for many Zimbabwean students.
There comes Zimbabwean student, Tadiwanashe Mavetera, who came out with straight As’ amounting to 50 points for his November 2022 exams. This feat has left citizens with mixed feelings, some raising so many questions while others are busy celebrating history in the making.
As some are giving credit to the student for his outstanding results, others are scratching their heads if the exam board is not putting its reputation at stake.
Mavetera has been labeled a whiz kid from Ruya Adventist, making the school proud as well as his parents and relatives.
Various educationists who spoke to this publication said the exam board, Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC)’s reputation has received a dent since it has proved beyond any reasonable doubt that its value, respect and dignity is lost as it provide exams to test if children are able to face difficult challenges in life.
“Even after getting 100 marks, it’s always advisable, upon its discretion to give the student 99 out of 100. When an examination is appearing to be easy, having a considerable number of children scoring extra ordinarily high points, then there is something wrong in the testing” said Mangwende, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.
He further highlighted this as the reason why Cambridge has maintained its value. There is regurgitation of answers from text books besides the leaking of examination papers with ZIMSEC as witnessed last year, one has to be punished for giving answers as they are in the marking scheme.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president, Takavafira Zhou told the Post On Sunday newspaper that there is everything fishy about Mavetera doing 10 subjects at Advanced Level.
“What it says is that the student was doing 5 continuous assessment programs for every subject which would intel doing a total of 50 continuous assessment projects CALA. There is a lot of dishonest with the school,” Zhou said.
He added that there is a tendency by teachers of giving students marks without necessarily doing projects, the course work that is important for skills development, there is everything wrong about this student and his results.
“Under normal circumstances the exam board and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, must be commissioning an inquiry or investigation of how the student managed to do that, it defies logic, even those doing 3 or 4 subjects are complaining that the CALA is over burdening students, teachers and parents,” added Zhou.
If there was an outcry late last year that spilled into Parliament, asking the ministry to revisit the CALA program claiming that it was a whole lot of work for parents than students, (and the ministry agreed to the proposal), how Mavetera managed to get straight As’ still remains a mystery.
“The Curriculum must be tailor made to produce skills so that students that are produced can create employment not that they can’t perform outside the classroom. We have come to a point where we are getting to a dysfunctional education system of looking for a paper qualification that doesn’t help in any away,” exclaimed Zhou.
The education and the health sector in Zimbabwe help with statistics survey on the inequality issues, having the rural child disadvantaged for lack of resources that help one to develop. Parliament of Zimbabwe is on record, pushing the ministry to look at the kids in rural areas who don’t have access to internet, electricity and or other learning materials.
As the country joins the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day of Education, United Nations Internal Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Zimbabwe, said in a statement, the United Nation’s convention on the rights of the child highlights access to free primary education is a fundamental right for every child.
This is reiterated by the constitution of Zimbabwe. Government has expressed its clear ambition to make access to basic education free for every child in the country in 2023.
Read the statement: “For that to happen, more investment is required for basic education. Poverty and disabilities are among the main triggers for out-of-school children in primary school. Because of poverty, parents and caregivers lack the resources for school fees, leading to absenteeism. This affects progress in ensuring inclusive education, especially for integrating children with disabilities who are often deprived of the right to learning.”
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president, Obert Masaraure added his voice and said the curriculum is not for skills development but just knowledge accumulation.
“We congratulate the genius who excelled with 50 points. We wish him well in the complicated process of making career choice. Such minds should have been deployed towards skills development,” added Masaraure
Educationist, former deputy minister, Arthur Mutambara told Nehanda Radio that there was need to rethink, reimagine and re-invent ZIMSEC. He said the grade inflation was disgraceful and a shameful national cancer.
“How do you get them a scholarship or secure places for them into top universities such as Oxford, Havard or Cambridge when there are a thousand students with 15 points from Zimbabwe? It is meaningless. You probably have to give them another examination to distinguish and differentiate them,” he said.
That being said, it’s a mystery and quandary, there are also those coming with 0s’ while others come with a straight line of Us’