THE Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec)’s 2022 O Level examinations have been plunged into further chaos after it emerged that marking schemes were leaked to candidates before they sat for their final examinations in October and November.
Zimsec markers who declined to be named for security reasons told NewsDay that they discovered that some candidates reproduced the marking schemes for some papers “word for word” in their answer sheets.
A number of Zimsec O Level examination papers leaked before pupils sat for their final examinations last year.
The Zimsec markers said in some centres, the majority of pupils got exceptionally questionable high marks of up to 100% for Combined Science Paper 2 and others, raising eyebrows.
The suspiciously high marks were mostly recorded at schools in Harare, NewsDay heard.
“Some pupils reproduced the marking scheme in their answers, even the codes that are put on the documents to guide the markers, which the candidates did not know their meaning,” an examiner who requested anonymity told NewsDay.
“It was clear that cheating occurred because some would write answers exactly as they were on the marking scheme, but on the wrong question.
“It is possible that every pupil in class can get an answer right, but not when the answer is the same in verbatim for a sentence. It is impossible unless they are copying from somewhere.”
- Zimsec ‘O’ Level paper leaks
- Leaked papers: Zimsec yet to decide
- ‘Zimsec marking schemes leaked before exams’
- ‘Minister advised to stay off media’
NewsDay is reliably informed that examiners red-flagged the issue in a report submitted to Zimsec.
Zimsec spokesperson Nichollette Dlamini said the exposé on the leakages of marking schemes was part of the measures taken by the public examinations body to determine the extent of the 2022 examination leakages.
“As reported to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee by our directorate and MoPSE [Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education], the marking activity was part of the measures to find those candidates who may or are suspected to have been involved in examinations malpractice,” Dlamini said.
“The comprehensive report and results, including those of other investigations, will be published at the completion of the exercise.”
Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary-general Goodwill Taderera said a rewrite was recommedned to preserve the credibility of the examinations.
“Everything is falling apart now,” Taderera said.
“We have always red-flagged the Zimsec malpractices. It has actually been going on for years. We have heard learners doing 20 subjects with flying and we have been suspicious.
“Now this year, we had evidence of learners who had access to the papers before they sat for the examination.
“That was enough reason for Zimsec to arrange for rewriting of the examinations to restore its integrity as an examinations body. Rewriting is the only fair way to address the malpractice.”
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education chairperson Torerai Moyo, however, said it was too late for Zimsec to arrange a rewrite for all the leaked examination papers.
“Zimsec is investigating the leakages through the marking process which would determine the extent of the cheating,” Moyo said.
“If there is a pattern of uniformity on the answers by pupils, as reported by the examiners, then there is a proof of cheating. But I think it is too late for Zimsec to run a rewrite.
“The bottom line is Zimsec should be accountable on how it runs the examinations. One way is to amend the Act that governs how examinations are run to give room for stiffer penalties for cheating.”
Zimsec told Parliament last year that about 590 suspects were caught cheating while sitting for November 2022 Ordinary and Advanced Level final examinations.
Government localised public school examinations in the late 1990s after scrapping the Cambridge examination system.