By Anna Chibamu
MDC-T legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga has urged government to allow pupils who failed their 2020 Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC) Grade 7 exams to rewrite the crucial test.
This comes after some 88 schools – mostly rural – in the country are said to have recorded zero percent pass rates.
The gulf between government and private schools was exposed when elite schools recorded 100 percent pass rates.
Most public urban, Mission as well as private schools recorded good pass rates.
Some 45 schools (0.8%) recorded a 100% pass rate and 200 (3.7%) more schools recorded between 90% and 99.9% pass rate with an overall pass rate of 46.88 %.
A total of 5 265 schools countrywide sat for the exams.
But speaking to NewZimbabwe.com Saturday, Misihairabwi-Mushonga, who is also parliament’s committee chair on education, said a lot of children from less privileged families did not receive proper learning because of a lot of factors, top among them an unprecedentedly long schools’ closure due to Covid-19.
“We did visit some schools during the time kids were writing exams, especially in Nkayi and Hwange areas which experienced low pass rates such as 0%.
“It was expected because the children had been brought to school two or three days before the exams were held.
“There was no time for revision, some of the teachers were on strike as you may know.
“We have been saying this from day one that the exams were being done under unfair and unjust circumstances. Some children had access and others did not have access to the same exam paper.
“We said this over and over to the Ministry of Education. We made proposals of staggering the exams but unfortunately no one was prepared to listen to us,” said the lawmaker.
She added that her committee was not surprised about the low pass rate at all.
“You have an exam where other students had access to online learning and others did not even have such preparation for the same exam. What can you expect?
“The rural communities are showing dismal results. This does not need any research at all. It was obvious it could come to the results we see today. We knew this was going to happen,” she said.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga urged government to order a re-write of the crucial test.
“Another paper can be done in June or later. The problem was that children were not going to school. The teachers were not available for revision.
“We need space for revision on certain days going forward so that the students can re-write their exams.”
She added, “The lockdown led to online learning to those that had access to revision papers and internet as well as extra lessons definitely did well whereas poor parents’ students were busy doing home chores.”
The lawmaker urged government to make plans for future learning as it remains apparent the Covid-19 menace could last longer.
“Covid-19 is not going away in the near future. We cannot think of virtual learning right now due to our poor ICT infrastructure. We have to make a plan so that our kids will go to school.”
Meanwhile, Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema has applauded parents, teachers and government workers including the donor community and members of the media fraternity who supported the students in a way during the preparation and writing of the exams.
Mathema commended those who did well under the difficult circumstances where teachers were on strike with the Covid-19 lockdown also disturbing the smooth flow of exams’ revision and writing.
“I am very grateful to everyone who played a part during our preparations and writing of exams last year. It was a difficult period where Covid-19 was ravaging communities but as government we put our effort together with parents and teachers to make sure those exams were done. Let us continue to work together and make such efforts in future,” Mathema told NewZimbabwe.com.