Candidates who failed to register for O-Level and A-Level examinations in November 2020 have been given a reprieve after the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) said it would open another window.
The relief will also apply to other candidates who failed to pay the top up examination fees adjusted by Government when it announced a new structure, with a subsidy of 53 percent.
Zimsec director Dr Lazarus Nembaware, while giving oral evidence before Parliament’s portfolio committee on Primary and Secondary Education, said his council did not want any candidate barred from the exams.
The committee, chaired by Ms Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (Proportionate Representative) invited Zimsec to get an update on the preparations for public examinations.
The May exams have already been postponed because of the lockdown.
Dr Nembaware said Zimsec was ready to move examinations to June, but was waiting for guidance.
The new fee structure will now see parents paying $90 per subject for O-Level with those sitting for A-Level paying $165 after Government said it will pay 53 percent of the total fees which had been worked out at $190 for O-Level subjects and $351 for A-Level.
“We got into a situation where we tried to help candidates to register through an electronic platform which we talked about on the radio, but of course there are others who could not. We have said those who fail to register for June, can you now register for November examination. Our approach to it is whenever the lockdown has been eased we will open a window.
“We have closed registration for June and November, but for November we are going to open a window so that those who were disadvantaged by Covid-19 we will be able to accommodate them,” said Dr Nembaware.
He said the number of registered O-Level candidates were 60 000 which is 15 000 less than those for last year which stood at around 75 000.
“The reason might be many, but we might single out, maybe, the raising of fees from $15 to $90 and $190 for private candidates. Also Covid-19 played its part because we started scaling down operations in Zimbabwe on 30 March 2020 when the nation was locked down. Parents, candidates and headmasters had problems in the registration,” he said.
Dr Nembaware said in printing of the question papers, Zimsec was compliant with all the health regulations such as handwash, sanitising, observing social distance and disinfecting the area.
He said the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education would also put in place health measures during examinations.
Dr Nembaware said dates as to when examinations would be written was the responsibility of their ministry, but as an examination body they were ready to deliver the June examination.
“Our duty is to produce the product, which we have done. Now that the question papers are ready, we are ready to deliver them to centres. We are going to relax a little, but where we are happy that the question papers are going to be secure we are going to have more stand-alone centres where schools will keep them, but where we have suspicion of abuse we will put a facility where they will be picked up every morning,” said Dr Nembaware.
Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Cain Mathema is expected to explain how schools will re-open in the face of Covid-19 when he appears before the committee this week.
“The issue of schools opening will be revealed on Wednesday when the Minister will be in here,” the director of curriculum development and technical devices John Dewah told the committee yesterday.
“The preparations that we are making ahead of the opening of schools will also be provided on Wednesday,” he added.
President Mnangagwa and Minister Mathema have already stated that schools opening will be staggered with exam classes returning first.
“Schools will be opened in a staggered way like what other countries all over the world are doing. We will start with examination classes and finally Early Childhood Development (ECD) students because those are difficult to control,” he said.
The developments come at a time when most parents and pupils are cracking heads over how to best access online classes.