Zimsec pushes for stiffer penalties

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THE Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) is pushing for stiffer penalties against people who leak examination papers that are costing the body millions of dollars in resets and at times rewriting of national examinations.

Currently, convicted offenders get away with lenient sentences like community service.

Zimsec director Lazarus Nembaware told a parliamentary portfolio committee on Primary and Secondary Education strategic planning workshop at the weekend that current sentences for examination paper leaks were not deterrent enough.

“We have a weak Zimsec Act … someone who leaks an English Language paper that is written by 300 000 and costs millions to produce another can be given community service while someone who steals a cow which costs $500 is jailed for nine years.

“We are in the process of bringing the proposed amendments to Parliament and all the ground work has been done,” Nembaware said.

The Zimsec director said the examination body is incurring a huge security cost as it has at least two police officers and a Zimsec monitor guarding all batches of examination papers for two weeks during examination periods.

He, however, conceded that current employees and education officials lacked the integrity of those who used to manage the process years back.

“It is not everyone who is in the system who is trustworthy and the days of school authorities safely guarding the papers until they were written are long past,” Nembaware said.

He said the security situation is tightened around six main Ordinary Level subjects that he said are sought after and for which some people would give anything to lay their hands on.

“There are six main subjects that are sought after at Ordinary Level which we have to strictly guard against their leaking,” Nembaware said, without listing them but these includes English Language, Mathematics and Science.

Meanwhile, the examinations board revealed that it had now acquired its own printer and would be printing locally saving the country millions in foreign currency.

He revealed that in 2018, the country shipped in 79 tonnes of examination papers from as far afield as the United Kingdom, incurring huge costs in freight charges. He said the new printer will help to keep costs low in the event of a paper leaking as they would previously have to engage their international printers at a huge loss.

Bernard Chiketo
in MUTARE

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