By Nyaradzo Bakari
THE Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has disapproved of Zimbabwe School Examinations Council’s (Zimsec) decision to have examinations registration continue online, saying it is not fair for students and teachers especially in the rural areas.
To ensure candidate registration deadlines are met in spite of the on-going lockdown, Zimsec set up an electronic platform for submission of candidates’ entry data and proof of payment for the two sittings. Registration for Ordinary and Advanced Level public examinations are expected to end on Monday April 6.
ARTUZ vice president Gaudencia Mandiopera said students, parents and teachers had already been exposed to the risks of being infected as they had continued to facilitate registration fearing to miss deadlines. She said online registration was a strain for rural teachers and students as they are faced with network problems.
Talking about online registration is a little bit too late. The school leaders have been exposed to possible infections for the past days. After schools closed they were forced to meet with learners and parents facilitating registration as the deadlines are nearing.
“The online option is a nightmare for school heads and learners in remote schools as they will be forced to travel around in search of network which can be a hustle,” she said. Ms Mandiopera said Zimsec should postpone examinations registration and adjust examinations schedule.
“Zimsec should appreciate the gravity of the global crisis we are facing, the registration should be shelved for now. Registration should resume when we have contained the virus. Adjustments on examination calendar can be made, protecting human life should be our priority for now. In any case if adjustments are to be made it means the June exams can be pushed further to allow normal provisional learning period that has been lost. It’s safe for Zimsec to join the world in containing the virus,” she said.
Many rural areas in Matabeleland have no access to reliable Internet connection. Most households in connected areas can barely afford the data. Natasha Mlotshwa an O’Level student said she was not aware of the online registration.
“I was not aware that we can register online, I had told myself that I will write my exams next year since our schools continue to send us back home when we try to register. In as much as registering online can be an alternative, how many of us know about this? Some do not even have access to the internet. So does this mean many of us will not be able to write this year,” she said.
Peter Siziba, a parent echoed Ms Mandiopera’s setiments, saying suspending registration and change examination dates will accommodate all students’ needs.
“Zimsec’s decision to continue with the registration is inconsiderate especially looking at the situation we are faced with right now. Corona virus is a national concern and yes we acknowledge measures enforced to contain the virus but this idea of registering online does not have the less privileged in mind. Zimsec should have considered that the deadline is very close now and only a few people have access to the internet so online registration will be difficult,” he said.
“The other thing Zimsec should consider is that these children did not learn much the past term which was cut short. The students need time to learn, especially those for the June sitting. If the examinations dates are not changed to a later date, these children will fail and our money and efforts would have been wasted as parents. Zimsec really needs to revise registration and examinations dates.”