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New problem for Zimsec

by 15/02/2018 09:51:00 0 comments 1 Views
While the decision by the High Court to stop a resit of the November 2017 Ordinary Level English Paper 2 examination was generally hailed as fairer than the original decision to order a re-write, stakeholders have reservations about basing the candidates' results on Paper 1 alone.

Justice Matanda-Moyo, sitting along with Justice Priscilla Munangati-Manongwa, said the examinations body, ZIMSEC, should release Ordinary Level results considering English Paper 1 only.

English teachers approached by H-Metro unanimously agreed that basing the results on the paper 1 compositions may still be unfair as the original decision.

An experienced English Language teacher with 25 years' experience, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy act that teachers signed, said basing the grades on Paper 1 renders the exam invalid.

"If they base the results on Paper 1 alone, the exam becomes invalid because it would have judged students on one aspect alone - which is composition writing.

"English students are tested on comprehension, summary writing, vocabulary inference skills and registers - all through paper 2 and saying all these aspects do not matter is unfair.

"The fact is paper 1 tests students' creative writing abilities and is much tougher for candidates. Most students get lower marks in Paper 1 and make ground in Paper 2 because the latter is based largely on factual responses and not on creativity. Composition writing is generally tough and judging the grades on these compositions is unfair as there are many students that are not well versed with the guided composition for example, where one can be asked to write a business letter or business proposal.

"If this is done, it will be a first in the world I think, totally unprecedented!" said the experienced teacher.

He said in the absence of a re-write, Zimsec may have to consider using coursework or term two results to give a fair analysis of candidates' abilities. However, this situation will disadvantage candidates that were not in formal education.

"The worst case scenario would be for Zimsec to release results minus the English grades and then work a plan for candidates to write in June, given enough time to plan," he said.

About five other teachers and several candidates interviewed by H-Metro concurred with the fact that Paper 1 is much tougher.

However, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe believe a solution can be found amidst this crisis.

Speaking through their secretary general Raymond Majongwe, PTUZ said they are in consultation with Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Professor Paul Mavima on a way forward.

Prof Mavima twitted that talks with PTUZ are ongoing and progressing well.

"The petition by one of our teacher's unions has been received and makes some good recommendations. We had started an engagement process with thm & we will continue to do so," he said through his twitter handle  @ProfPMavima.

"Yes the minister is talking about PTUZ and we sent him 10 recommendations on the way forward and we are enjoying the progress," said Majongwe.

Responding to the issue raised by teachers and students on the differences in the papers, Majongwe said the grading is not as simple as that and there can be a way forward.

"The most important thing is to accept that we are already in a crisis and one we must get out of.

"Zimsec put us in this crisis and the buck stops with them. The judiciary has done well and proved to us that they are independent and not influenced by politicians. The lawyers have been brilliant and have avoided punishing the innocent - which are the students.

"As to the grading, there are several methods that will be under consideration to make it as near-fair as possible for the candidates. The methods are technical as there is one known as the 68-95 rule, another known as the main concept rule and several others that will be under consideration.

"At the end of the day total justice may not happen as this crisis is deep but imagine the blind students of Kapota and what they would have to go through had the decision to re-write stood?

"We hope Zimsec has learnt from all this chaos that they created going into the future," he said.

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