Fidelis Munyoro, Harare Bureau
The High Court yesterday granted an order nullifying the re-write of the November 2017 Ordinary Level English Paper 2 public examination that had been scheduled for tomorrow and ordered that the overall results be based solely on English Paper 1.
Last week, the local examination body nullified the examination citing leakages that had resulted in widespread cheating.
In granting the order cancelling the contentious re-write of the English Paper 2 public examination, Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo, sitting with Justice Priscilla Munangati-Manongwa, re-emphasised that the real culprits in the whole debacle were officials from the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec).“No action to date has been taken against such officials,” said Justice Matanda-Moyo.
“It is the court’s view that failure to take action against officials responsible for leakages is responsible for the discrediting of the education standards in Zimbabwe.
“The Government is urged to take interest in ensuring that the credibility of our educational standards are safeguarded by investing in the examination system.
“This is the only way that the integrity of our examination can be restored.”
Justice Priscilla Munangati-Manongwa concurred.
During the hearing on Tuesday, the judges called for an overhaul of Zimsec systems and said “heads must roll” over the bungling of public examinations.
Ms Chingasiyeni Govhati, who was one of the two applicants in the case, welcomed the ruling.
“I am pleased with the ruling handed down by the two honourable judges,” she said.
“It has shown that our High Court is indeed the upper guardian of children’s interest, taking into account the best interest principle in our Constitution.
“Like what the judges said, why punish the children when the officials at Zimsec had not done their job properly? Just like what our lawyer said, that the officials were sleeping on duty.”
Ms Govhati and Mr Victor Mukomeka – represented by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) in collaboration with Justice for Children’s Trust (JCT) – brought the application to nullify the re-write of the November 2017 Ordinary Level English Language Paper 2. The matter brought Zimsec under scrutiny both in court and the nation at large.
During the hearing, Zimsec lawyer Mr Zvobgo Tawanda Zvobgo argued that the application lacked merit.
He urged the court to the dismiss the application with costs.
He argued that the two parents failed to prove a case on the merits against Zimsec. Mr Denford Halimani, who was instructed by the ZLHR and JCT, argued that the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education (Prof Paul Mavhima) confirmed that the cheating was identified during the examination session, but did not take action.
He said it was surprising why the English Paper 2 examination was allowed to continue, and why Zimsec proceeded to mark the exams, only to annul results on February 8, 2018, some months later.
“It is not clear why remedial action was not taken timeously and instantly upon realising the cheating or even the potential for cheating,” he argued.
“Zimsec allowed an exam in which they detected cheating to proceed and proceeded to mark it, only to annul results afterwards.”
Mr Halimani said the costs attached to this kind of action and the rationality and reasonableness of this decision alone does not withstand scrutiny.
Over 260 000 candidates sat for the November 2017 public examination, where widespread cheating was detected on the paper in question.
English is among compulsory Ordinary Level subjects in Zimbabwe.