SECONDARY schools in Zimbabwe’s urban centers performed poorly in both the 2011 Ordinary and Advanced Level results, figures released by the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council showed on Tuesday.
Nyanga High School in Manicaland was statistically the best school followed by St Ignatius in Mashonaland East at both levels countrywide, but only three schools in Harare and Bulawayo made the top 10 in tables dominated by Manicaland and Mashonaland East provinces.
ZIMSEC released a table of the top 10 schools with the highest pass rate at A’ Level, and a top 50 chart of the best performing schools in O’ Level from last November's examinations.
Of the 10 A’ Level toppers, Mashonaland East contributed four schools, Manicaland three with the Midlands, Masvingo and Harare contributing one each.
Manicaland and Mashonaland were again dominant in the O’ Level league, claiming 10 spots each and leaving the other eight provinces in their wake.
Just one Harare school – ZRP High (4th) – made the top 50 of the best performing schools at O’ Level, while Bulawayo managed two – John Tallach (6th) and St Columbus’ (30th).
Harare’s Zengeza High slotted in at 8th in the top 10 A’ Level schools.
Matabeleland North province was the only one to register once in both leagues (Marist Brothers (14th)), while Mtshabezi Mission (35th) and Usher Girls High (45th) were Matabeleland South’s only two representatives.
Officials say Zimbabwe has 2,300 secondary schools, and the major towns and cities – Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare – have the highest density of secondary schools.
But traditionally, boarding schools – mainly rigorously-selective Christian schools – in the rural provinces have produced the best results.
ZIMSEC officials say both the A’ and O’ Level results represented a year-on-year increase in the pass rate, albeit coming from a low base after a decade-long decline in standards which coincided with Zimbabwe’s worst economic crisis in history.
The O’ Level results showed a 10 percent improvement on 2010, the pass rate – pupils obtaining five or more subjects with Grade C or better – rising from 16.50 percent nationally to 19.50 percent.
A’ Level, which has a smaller intake and rigorous screening, saw a jump from 75.99 percent in 2010 to 85.25 percent in 2011. A pass at A’ Level means a student obtained two or more passes with Grade E or better.
Professor Norman Maphosa, the ZIMSEC board chairman, said 241,512 pupils had sat O’ Level exams, up from 229,522 in 2010.
There was, however, a drop in the A-Level intake from 27,782 in 2010 to 25,136 in 2011.
Professor Maphosa said Grave 7 results had also improved by four percent in the last year, rising from 25 percent in 2010 to 28.9 percent. Some 288,365 pupils sat exams, down from 303,978 in 2010.
Professor Maphosa said: “It is pleasing to note that across all levels, the pass rates are showing an upward movement trend.”