Zimsec suspends exams setting

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THE Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) was this week forced to suspend the setting of examination papers after examiners downed tools, rejecting a $4 000 payment offer which they deemed too little, the Daily
News reports.
On Tuesday, over 100 examiners, mostly teachers, who were camped at Chinhoyi University of Technology refused to prepare questions for compilation into examination papers for future use by Zimsec after the examinations body allegedly duped them into starting work without signing contracts.

After realising that Zimsec intended to pay them $4 000 for the 12 days they were supposed to work, the teachers demanded to be paid the equivalent of US$300 that they had been receiving in previous years. Zimsec communications director Nicollet Dhlamini confirmed the development to the Daily News yesterday, arguing that
teachers had been given contracts prior to their commencing work.

“The issue of money was raised, but it could not be resolved immediately as it meant that there was a need to
renegotiate their contracts. All the teachers who were doing item writing had contracts, but they demanded
more and we had no option, but to stop the exercise,” Dhlamini said.

Asked whether the strike by examiners would not impact this year’s public examinations, Dhlamini assured the nation that all was well.

“This year’s examinations were set already and this development will not have any effect on them. The items were for future examinations,” she said.

However, examiners who spoke to the Daily News on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation said they only found out how much they were supposed to get four days after starting work after mathematics items
had been finished and they were given declaration forms.

“Zimsec is being economical with the truth because while normally we sign contracts before starting, this time
around they did not give us anything.

It was only after four days that those doing mathematics items were given declaration forms that we realised how much they intended to pay us.

“We demanded to meet with the authorities and there was a standoff resulting in us refusing to work and withholding the items we had prepared.

“The Zimsec officials got angry and they sent us away after stopping the process. Some of us who had come from other parts of the country were stranded because we had no bus fare to go back to our homes,” said one of
the teachers.

The questions that examiners were preparing are called items and they are banked by Zimsec for future use.
When Zimsec sets an examination, it picks the items from the bank to compile a question paper.

The system ensures that teachers who set them have no idea of how the final examination paper looks like when students eventually sit it. The strike by the Zimsec examiners comes as teachers, who make up the bulk
of public sector workers, have been on strike since

September pressing for better salaries and adequate personal protective equipment in light of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

It also comes as they have rejected a 40 percent salary increment offered by the government which would see the
lowest paid civil servant earning $14 528 a month and the least paid teachers getting $18 237, with all educators given an extra 10 percent of their salaries as a risk allowance.

Before the re-introduction of the Zimbabwe dollar, civil servants were earning about US$520 a month. At the beginning of the year, most civil servants, teachers included, earned below $5 000 a month.

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