The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) tests are now well underway.
Grade Sevens completed their schedule on October 10. Ordinary and Advanced level pupils started writing theirs in earnest on Monday, a few weeks after they did their final practicals.
These are the first public examinations to be taken so smoothly since the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020. They started as normal in September and should progress and end in early December as scheduled given the fact that the pandemic has basically been contained.
We are however disturbed that only a day after O-Level examinations started a paper, Mathematics Paper One, leaked as we cite Zimsec telling us elsewhere today.
“The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council would like to alert all its valued stakeholders that reports have been received that there are candidates who had pre-access to the Ordinary Level Mathematics Paper 1 (4004/1), which was written on Tuesday morning,” said Zimsec in a release.
“Zimsec, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, and the Zimbabwe Republic Police are investigating the leakage and have already identified some candidates who had pre-access to the question paper and are currently tracking down the source/s where the papers originated.”
Investigations are underway to establish the extent of the leakage and its source. Some kids who had access to the paper ahead of time are assisting investigators.
It concerns us that there are some among us who do not value the integrity of our education system and that of public examinations. We are sure that the culprits are adults, who worked in collusion with either Zimsec or school authorities to breach the examination papers before the time had arrived. They can be Zimsec or school authorities acting alone. The motivation should have been to sell some of the papers or perhaps a parent or guardian seeking to give their child an easy way through the paper, known to be among the most challenging.
This action is condemnable and criminal. It spoils the children who had access to the paper before it was to be publicly written. It mars the integrity of our public examinations, and by extension, of our education system.
Details around the leakage are still sketchy but we commend whoever noted it and raised the red flag.
We hope that the extent of the breach is small, concentrated on one or two examination centres. If this is the case, it makes it easy for investigators to pick out the children involved, and the masterminds. Depending on how involved they were, the kids will get their punishment. The hardest punishment must be on the masterminds, who, as we have speculated, must be adults, Zimsec or school authorities.
We trust the police will quickly get to the bottom of the matter and bring the culprits to book.
Going forward, we implore Zimsec and its partners in the administration of examinations to tighten security around the papers. We say this because there are still many more to be taken, papers that are just as potentially tough and key as the Mathematics Paper One. There is still Mathematics Paper Two, English, Sciences and so on at O- and A-levels.
More security personnel can be deployed to keep an eye on the papers before they are written, and the answer sheets. Serviceable cameras can be installed, if none are already, in and around strong rooms where the documents are kept so that any unauthorised access can be identified as quickly as possible and appropriate response taken.
It can be worthwhile for authorities to secure the papers too by coming up with a technology that promptly raises the alarm, registering at a Zimsec command centre, as soon as the envelope containing the examination is opened before the appropriate time. Just like an alarm sounds as soon as a thief attempts to burgle a vehicle installed with one.
But the tightest security to examination papers is for all of us to understand that cheating and greed are morally wrong and must not happen. If all of us understand this and discipline ourselves there will be no need for Zimsec to spend much money securing the question papers.
Article Source: The Chronicle