Teachers’ unions want the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) to defer the November 2021 public examinations to 2022 following disruption of the school calendar by the COVID-19-induced lockdown.
Speaking to NewsDay on Monday, Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou said it would be irresponsible for authorities to frog-march students into examinations given the disruptions they have experienced. Said Zhou:
The possibility of 2021 candidates writing examinations this year is minimal. With schools likely to open from mid-September 2021, examinations can only be written in early 2022 after three months of intensive learning. Such learning requires motivation for teachers.
Zhou also called on the government to pay teachers salaries at par with other government employees such as members of the military and the police considering that teachers spent years in colleges and universities. He said:
They must be given better salaries so that they work harder to protect the education system from going into dysfunctionality.
Government should address the disparities between teachers and the rest of civil servants, where an underqualified ordinary government worker is earning more than a trained teacher.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Obert Masaraure suggested that examinations be postponed to March next year. He said:
If our examinations are for genuine performance evaluation, they should be postponed until our learners have covered the syllabus.
March 2022 will be ideal for examinations to cater for lost learning time. We should desist from the tick-the-box mentality and focus on genuinely evaluating learner exit profiles.
Zimbabwe National Teachers’ Union chief executive Manuel Nyawo said public examinations should be postponed to “February next year to give learners ample time to learn and grasp concepts for their current grades and forms”.
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (ZIMTA) chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu also said the postponement of examinations would be ideal. Ndlovu said:
Apart from the writing of the examinations, we are urging the government to consider postponing the implementation of the continuous assessment learning areas (CALAs) programme so that learners and teachers intensively focus on completing the outstanding areas of the syllabi and be ready for the 2021 examinations.
Implementation of the CALA programme is a hurried decision which disrupts proper learning in schools.
Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said the government was yet to get recommendations from ZIMSEC on the way forward.