Fidelis Munyoro/Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporters
THE High Court yesterday called for an overhaul of the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council system and said “heads must roll” over the bungling of public examinations.
This comes amid reports that some schools are reportedly hiring “examination experts” to teach, for a fee, candidates that will be sitting for the Zimsec Ordinary Level English Paper 2 to be re-written on Friday.
The High Court, which is today expected to deliver judgment in the case in which two Harare parents are seeking to nullify the re-writing of the November 2017 Ordinary Level English Language Paper 2 public examination, said it was surprised that no action had been taken against the officials involved.
However, the cheating case brought Zimsec under scrutiny during the hearing of the chamber application.
Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo sitting with Justice Priscilla Munangati-Manongwa, said it was surprising that heads did not roll at Zimsec, that has become an anchorage of bungling.
“The whole system needs overhaul,” said Justice Matanda-Moyo.
“Heads must roll. It is quite surprising that nothing is being done to the officials. This is a problem caused by officials at Zimsec. It cannot be business as usual.”
Justice Munangati-Manongwa weighed in reading minutes from Zimsec on the deliberations and recommendations made before the examination body ordered a resit of the examination.
In the minutes, the Zimsec board members seem to acknowledge bungling.
The minutes stated that the cheating could have emanated at setting of the examination, printing, collection and distribution, among other levels.
To this end, Justice Munangati-Manongwa said the Zimsec was acknowledging bungling.
“Going by this statement they are acknowledging bungling,” she said.
“They are found wanting. This has been acknowledged by the board members who then went on to suggest remedies to the matter.”
Zimsec lawyer Mr Zvobgo Tawanda Zvobgo was asked why other students should pay the price for cheating when they had not committed the offence.
“Why a blanket punishment? Why should those who had not cheated pay the price for cheating?” queried Justice Munangati-Manongwa.
Mr Zvobgo said his client wanted to preserve the integrity of the country’s examination system.
In his submissions, Mr Zvobgo urged the judges to dismiss the urgent application for lack of merit.
“The applicants have failed to prove a case on the merits against first respondent (Zimsec),” said Mr Zvobgo.
“There is no valid basis upon which the court may grant the relief sought.”
He said the two parents — Messrs Victor Mukomeka and Chingasiyeni Govhati — represented by Mr Denford Halimani failed to aver, let alone prove any of the requirements for an interim interdict requirements.
The applicants, said Mr Zvobgo, were not seeking an order for their minor children, but on behalf of all candidates that sat for November 2017 public examination.
“To this extent the applicants have brought a class action suit,” he argued.
“Class action suits cannot be brought on an urgent basis because the concerned litigant must first comply with the necessary procedures to clothe himself with the requisite locus standi (legal standing).”
Earlier on Mr Halimani was forced to withdraw the order he sought for nullification of the Zimsec decision.
He withdrew the order after the judges queried the nature of the application which contradicted the order sought. The judges wanted to know whether Mr Halimani’s clients were representing their children alone and not the entire population which wrote the November 2017 English Paper 2 public examination.
The lawyer conceded and requested the judges to grant an appropriate order.
He then proposed to have the matter remitted to Zimsec for reconsideration.
“It is ideal for this court as the upper guardian of the children to consider the interest of the children,” said Mr Halimani. “It is the children’s interest at stake here and this court is the vanguard of the children’s rights.”
He said the action taken by Zimsec was mere reactionary and not based on good faith.
“They slept on duty and now want to cover for their bungling. It is an attempt to save face.”
Zimbabwe School Examinations Council last week ordered a resit of the examination on allegations that the paper leaked through social media.
In their application Messrs Mukomeka and Govhati are also suing Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Paul Mavhima for breaching constitutional provisions by annulling the results. It is the parents’ argument that the minister acted beyond his authority of which the Act empowers, in Section 34, only the examinations board to annul examination results.
Meanwhile, Teachers’ associations yesterday said they have received reports from parents that some schools were hiring experts to ‘drill’ their children ahead of the resit and expressed concern over the developments.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Mr Takavafira Zhou called on the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to stop such practices.
“We received complaints that some schools are hiring people who call themselves examination experts to teach children for a fee in preparation for the English examination. This is totally unacceptable.
“It’s not only a burden on the parents but also a way of allowing cheating. Some of these people would have leaked examination papers before they visit schools and pick exactly what is in the examination paper,” said Mr Zhou.
He said some of these so called experts would be in connivance with the school authorities so that they record good results.
“Teaching should be left to the teachers. Those who want to teach should stay in the schools and stop using their tricks to get what is in the examination papers so that they help candidates to cheat. Such people should be arrested,” said Mr Zhou.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) president Mr Richard Gundane said schools should not be allowed to hire the so called experts.
“We’re yet to receive the reports as Zimta but if it’s happening in our schools the Government has to take action. This used to happen years back but it was banned. Schools would invite Zimsec examiners with experience as resource persons to coach candidates ahead of the examinations.