HARARE – Analysts have slammed Dr Caiphas Nziramasanga’s suggestions for the Government to do away with Grade 7 and Ordinary Level examinations saying his views were retrogressive and would lead to the sinking of the education sector into doldrums.
Dr Nziramasanga, who chaired the is the 1999 Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training, which suggested sweeping reforms then, recently told participants at a Bindura University of Science Education public lecture that the two exams were now irrelevant.
However his views seem to have torched a storm across a wide section of people with some doubting Dr Nziramasanga’s rationality in suggesting that pupils must not be intermittently tested.
“I used to have respect for this guy but now I think he has lost his marbles. His suggestion that teachers should have the sole responsibility of recommending students for upward progression will obviously encourage corruption. These examinations must remain in place as they act as a screening net for deserving students to go to university,” said Ndabahlele Mabhena, an educationist in Harare.
The Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Professor Paul Mavima said government had not plans to scratch examinations. “Grade 7 and O-Level examinations will stay as they remain a necessity for the cognitive development of pupils in measuring their readiness for secondary learning. However, we can adopt continuous assessment as a complement to that which exists already,” said Prof Mavima.
His views were echoed by Education Coalition director Mr Maxwell Rafomoyo who said Zimbabwe was ranked high on the literacy rudder in Africa because of the current summative evaluation.
“Continuous assessment requires a lot of resources. It will require us to retrain teachers to meet changing and technological developments. We do not have the capacity to ensure that all teachers and students get the same services to remain relevant,” Mr Rafomoyo said.
Progressive Teachers Association president Dr Takavafira Zhou said the country’s education system had depended heavily on recommendations of the Nziramasanga Commission for a longtime and new ideas were needed to address problems faced in the sector.
“Times have changed and we cannot continue depending on the cataracts of a 15-yearold commission. Our system should be open to constructive change,” he said.
Dr Zhou urged teachers to embrace the teaching for life approach and not rush pupils through exam-driven syllabus. Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive Mr Sifiso Ndlovu however said Dr Nziramasanga’s proposal was tenable given the fact that Grade 7 examinations were draining a lot of resources from the fiscus.