Today is Wednesday, in 48hours time, close to a quarter of a million pupils are supposed to resit O-Level English Paper 2 because of what has become habitual bungling by the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec).
But that is not the real story. As we report elsewhere in this issue, concerned parents and guardians have taken the examinations body to court, challenging the directive to compel their children to resit the examination months after they thought they were done with it; and months after having handed in their books back to their respective departments.
But again that is not the story. The story is that Zimsec director Esau Nhandara is sleeping soundly at night, and reporting for work every day without qualms. Yet principle would have required either him or his immediate superiors to act.
The action required is not just the directive that was issued compelling pupils to resit the paper in question; the onus was on Nhandara to resign to safeguard the integrity of Zimsec.
After all there is a precedent. In 1996, the then Minister of Education, Arts, Sports and Culture Edmund Garwe left a Zimbabwe Junior Certificate paper lying around in his house.
His child writing ZJC picked it up and took it to school. Garwe realised he’d let Zimbabwe down and resigned. But not so for Nhandara, bungling at Zimsec has become a way of life. He is not bothered.
If he does not have the moral compass to realise he has messed up, not once but habitually, then his superiors at the parent ministry should show him the door.
In case they have forgotten we highlight a few of the incidents below. In 2012 examination papers for English, Mathematics, Geography, Ndebele, Integrated Science and Commerce destined for Sijawuke Secondary School in Bubi District mysteriously disappeared prompting police to launch investigations.
In 2005, Zimsec withheld O-Level Chemistry results for candidates at Gokomere High School following suspicions that a teacher had leaked the paper.
For brevity and space considerations we highlight just these three, which should have been sufficient grounds on their own for sweeping changes at Zimsec.
Nhandara has evidently failed to safeguard the integrity of the examinations body with serious implications, not only for hundreds of thousands of innocent pupils, but the integrity of our highly respected education system
Zimbabwean graduates are highly sought the world over because of the standing of our education system in the eyes of the world. This is a position we should jealously guard.
In any other society, Nhandara should have called time on his tenure at Zimsec, but this is Zimbabwe, a nation that is not easily outraged where some office bearers do not have the decency for remorse.
This is a new dispensation where such bungling should never be tolerated. Heads should roll at Zimsec, otherwise no lessons will be learnt.