ZIMBABWE. Harare: Teachers have criticized the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE) for letting final year candidates sit for the public examination despite the learning time list due to COVID-19. Teachers have expressed their refusal to invigilate final examination classes. They claim that children are not fully equipped to sit for exams. Despite their refusal, examination classes for primary and secondary schools started on 1 December.
Ministry of Education fails to engage teachers
Zimbabwe Rural Teachers Union (ZRTU) Vice President Gibson Mushangu, in an interview with transcontinental Times, said that the allowance of learners to sit for exams has portrayed the ignorance of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, to the importance of teachers.
He said, “Continuing with letting learners sit for the public examinations against the advice of teachers’ unions and other stakeholders is a sign of poor engagement between MPoSE and responsible unions.” He continued, “We are the classroom practitioners who know the extent to which our learners covered, the content on the syllabus, and our recommendations should be regarded seriously.”
“Our learners are being exposed to industrial rejection because of the low validity of their examinations, which is an obvious case that the marking scheme is likely going to be loosened”, he concluded.
Candidates not fully equiped for exams
Most children have not attended school, and most parents found it hard to send their children for extra lessons. Given that their main sources of income have been affected by the pandemic, many were not able to send their children to school. This has led to a situation in which many children must resume classes without being fully equipped for the exams. Besides, the absence of teachers at schools has left them in a more vulnerable situation.
Zimbabwe Teacher’s Association (ZIMTA) Executive Director Sifiso Ndlovu, in an interview with Transcontinental Times, said learners are not ready for exams as they have not completed the syllabus. He said, “Learners are not ready for exams, while some don’t even know their candidate numbers.” He added, “There just wasn’t enough time to prepare learners at the same time rush through the syllabus.”
Normally, the school calendar records 9 months of learning and 3 months of holiday, but this year’s holiday took 6 months due to lockdown.
Letter to the examination board
On Monday, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Association (ARTUZ) wrote a letter to the Zimbabwe School Examination Council (ZIMSEC) notifying the board that its members will not invigilate the public exams. The letter stated, “ARTUZ with over 5 000 members in 10 provinces is notifying you that we will not invigilate and evaluate this year’s public examination.” It continued, “Learners lost time during COVID-19 induced lockdown when schools were closed, so as teachers we need more time with learners to compensate for the time lost and complete their syllabus.”
It concluded, “We will not be part of the ongoing invigilation of learners that did not complete the requirements of their syllabus this year.”
lncrease of salaries
Besides the issue of learners sitting without having been fully equipped for exams, teachers have also demanded an increase in their salaries. They have refused to return to their duties since September to date.
Children got proper learning first term only, the second term some attended extra lessons in private schools while others failed. Mainly those in rural areas are at a disadvantage since parents cannot afford to pay for extra lessons.